Preparing for Standardized Tests
This article will introduce you to some basic standardized test taking strategies.
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SAT, ACT, GRE… and the list goes on. Standardized tests are hard. Why? Because most people don’t know how to study for them. In this short article, you will learn some tips on studying for preparing for standardized tests. Some people say or believe that you can’t study for the SAT’s or ACT’s, or similar tests, but you can.
The hardest part about standardized tests is knowing what to study for. In a math or science class, you always know exactly what will be on the test. But that isn’t exactly true for standardized tests. That is because standardized tests don’t really want to test your knowledge; they assess your skills at reading and solving problems. Some sort of reading portion is on almost every standardized test. So, can you prepare for that? Certainly. Magazines and newspapers are great ways to prepare for those sorts of tests. Practice for the reading portion by reading short newspaper and magazine articles. Allow yourself no more than about 2 minutes for a 1 page article, and underline or mark the most important ideas. Don’t worry about memorizing the article or remembering every detail; just concentrate on the main ideas. That is the basic skill that is needed to crack reading portions of standardized tests.
Math and science tests are difficult as well. There are many topics that test makers can pull material from. So, like the reading portion, do what you can, but don’t sweat all the details. For math, practice lots of problems. Most booksellers carry test preparation materials, from which you can find example problems. Buy a book that corresponds to your tests and practice: take a test and check your answers. By tackling those questions, you can see where your problem areas are. If you find that you have a particular weakness in an area or just need to brush up on a topic you haven’t practiced in a while, you’ll be more efficient in studying. Continue taking practice tests, though, so you can review your stronger topics as well.
Many people ask if there are strategies for standardized tests. One strategy is to make educated guesses whenever possible. Often times, you will get to a question on the test that just doesn’t make too much sense to you. Do you best to eliminate one or more answer choices before guessing. How to eliminate answer choices varies from test to test, but with practice, you can find a strategy that works best for the test and section you’re working on. For instance, if working on antonyms or analogies on an English section, eliminate choices that can’t possibly be the correct choice. If you have an idea of a word but don’t know its exact meaning, you can usually eliminate at least 1 answer choice. If most of the answer choices have roughly the same meaning but one means the opposite, that choice could be the correct answer. Another strategy is to hold off on hard questions until the end. Since, usually, all questions are worth the same amount of points, its better to do the easy ones first when you’re not pressured for time. It would be a shame to miss out on easy questions because you took too much time on harder ones that you’ll probably get wrong anyway! These are two basic strategies for getting better scores on standardized tests. As you practice more, you will find out what works best for you.
In addition to practicing, it is important to practice the correct way. It is best to practice under quiet, uninterrupted situations. Don’t take a break every 10 minutes to get something to eat or drink. You need to condition yourself to sit still for long periods of time. Your brain needs to be accustomed to concentrating without any disruptions. That is the only way you can get used to the length of the test. Also, and this was mentioned before, time yourself on the tests, that way you will get used to the speed at which you must work to finish sections of the test. If you can finish the test without leaving any questions unread, you’ll be in a great position to get the best score you’re capable of.
So, those are some basic preparation strategies. Also as important to studying is getting rest and exercise. Exercising is a great way to relieve stress and help your brain remember things. And, the days before the actual test, make sure to get plenty of rest. If you follow these strategies, you’ll do great!