Standardized Test Season
Standardized testing is in the fall air. The PSATs, SATs, ACTs, ITBS, and even early preparation for the AP testing in May are looming over most high school students right now, and it all can be a bit overwhelming. While there are some standardized test preparations that overlap with normal test prep, some things are different and are important to take note of when studying for your standardized tests. Here are some helpful tips to preparing for your college level tests.
Know your strengths! If you know you struggle in math but are strong in English, focus more of your time doing practice problems, rather than reading texts. Do not waste your study time re-learning things you already have a strong grasp of.
Know your limits! Do not bite off more than you can chew in terms of studying. Make sure you have plenty of time to study when registering for a test that is offered multiple times throughout the year. If it’s late November and the test is in early December, do not sign up for the test without giving yourself proper time to study. Pace yourself, as well. Do not try to cram in all of the subjects or information into one study session. Even studying only a little bit each day for a month might help you more than cramming everything the weekend before.
Take practice tests! The thing that makes standardized tests most different from regular school tests is content. School tests can be a final exam, quiz, or unit test and they all have pretty exclusive content. Standardized tests do not have specific questions or topics, but instead focus more on applying previous knowledge and interpreting given information. The best way to actually study for a standardized exam is to take practice tests to get accustomed to the format and the types of questions asked.
Know your calculator! This seems a bit obvious, but knowing how to use the various functions of your calculator is important. Some tests, like the AP Biology test, only allow basic four-function calculators. If you are switching from your trusty TI-84 to a basic calculator, make sure you can properly work it, so you can utilize it on the test, if needed. Also, make sure you know if your calculator is acceptable for a certain test or not. There are strict rules on which calculators are permitted and prohibited.
Eat and sleep! Most importantly, make sure you have enough food and sleep in your system. Students hear this a lot in reference to standardized tests, but it is truly important. Being well rested and having a lot of brain food before a test is very helpful. Often, before a unit test in class, students stay up late to cram the night before and do not get enough sleep. With standardized tests, there is no specific material to study, so make sure to get plenty of rest the night before.
Wear comfy but appropriate clothing! Wearing a fancy dress while you are testing is probably not the best idea, but wearing your PJ’s is probably not a good plan, either. However, I’ve found that being comfortable while testing is helpful, so you don’t have something like the tightness of your skinny jeans distracting you. Wearing a comfortable t-shirt or a crew with some comfortable shorts or leggings is usually ideal for me. By the way, girls, I also find it easiest to test when I have my hair out of my face and pulled back into a ponytail.
Bring plenty of pencils/pens! This is suggested by every testing company, but it is very important. Obviously, the room you are testing in has pencil sharpeners, but in the event your pencil breaks, you want to save as much time for testing as possible. Giving yourself that extra time allows for more time per question or a little bit of time to review your answers at the end.
Bring a snack! Most tests have a built-in snack break. Take advantage of this and give your brain a little extra food for thought (literally).
Bring your best effort! A lot of these standardized tests will help to determine your future. Getting a good score brings great opportunities for you in the future. Give the test your best effort and focus as hard as you can to get a good score. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later.
So, I hope these easy tips will help you in your standardized endeavors. For even more study tips and tricks, read my previous article here. Good luck and happy testing!