Unless you’re Mr. Freeze, no matter how prepared you are for a standardized test there is always a level of anxiety associated with the actual test taking. Whether anticipation, excitement or plain old fear – the anxiety is real. Don’t panic, here are some weapons you can pack in your anti-stress arsenal:
TTA’s Top Ten Testing Tips and Tricks (…say it three times fast and then read the below):
Now is a good time to get your Subject Test study guides and study right along with your classes. That way, come May and June you are good to go for those one-hour tests. Same goes for AP tests. While colleges no longer require official test scores, you still want to maximize your scores as they are another data point in admissions. So, study along with course work NOW for spring tests.
2-Set a Study Schedule (IN STONE)
Think of standardized test studying as your job for the next 8-10 months. You shouldn’t skip work because you have a hankering for a day chilling with friends or hitting the ski slopes. Of course you can BUT you shouldn’t – not if you want to really crush your test and increase your chances of attending the school of your dreams.
If you’re scheduled to study the afternoon of a beautiful-perfect-ski-day then that’s where you should be, studying. There is no ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’ on test day! Remain committed to this schedule – NO diversions, NO excuses.
Our students who crush standardized tests take PLENTY of practice tests on a schedule. So, they might take a practice test the last Sunday of every month 6 months prior to their test date.
Create a habit, say every Saturday afternoon at 5:00pm you will pull out your test prep books and spend ½ hour on ACT, ½ hour on one Subject Test. Habits create discipline…or is it the other way around?
3-Create a Standardized Testing Plan
Be pro-active! Review upcoming SAT, Subject Test and ACT test dates and make a TEST PLAN that you are committed to. We work with all of our students in the summer to map out their year ahead with appropriate Subject Tests, APs, ACTs or SATs. Type it up, print it out and include registration dates.
**REMINDER: After the January 23rd SAT, the test is being revamped for the March test date.**
Give yourself nature breaks as a reward for your weekly study session. Take a quick hike in the woods to revive yourself, rejuvenate your soul by simply listening to the birds chirp – whatever works for you, take quick breaks, get out of your seat and MOVE. Don’t LOSE YOURSELF or your sanity in your studying.
5-Switch It Up, or Not
If you’re a mover and a shaker, don’t confine yourself to the same space, in the same position, every single moment. Change your study location up a little to keep the juices flowing.
On the other hand, if you prefer order and consistency, be sure you have a quiet organized space with a comfortable chair for your study time. Though, keep in mind, there are studies that claim alternating your study environment and atmosphere improves retention and recall.
6-Study SMARTER not HARDER
Self-awareness is key – know your own studying strengths and weaknesses and be aware of which sections you will need to focus on more so than others. Figure out your learning style; are you a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner? Do you prefer to read aloud from your test prep materials, or talking through a sticking point in a lecture setting? Are you addicted to YouTube to help you learn how to do things? If so, you are an auditory learner so seek out test prep materials that suit your style like videos on relevant test information, audiobooks that you can listen to in the car or simply continue to read your test prep materials aloud.
7-Practice Makes Perfect… Or Close To It.
Take practice tests… LOTS AND LOTS OF PRACTICE TESTS! That means starting to prep early, and ensuring that practice exams are scheduled weekly, if not more often. Repeat practice exams are the best way to learn the layout, structure and pace of the test.
8-Simulate Testing Conditions for Accurate Practice Scores:
This doesn’t just mean going to the library and studying where others are present. Find a hard chair that’s lopsided, take the practice test at a time of day you hate, ensure there is noise around you just in case the test center is loud, wear a t-shirt with a scratchy tag, open the window to create a chilly room, etc. All of these things are possible on test day, so plan for them. Taking a test in a cushy chair in your bedroom at 7pm while sipping a latte is not a testing environment that will ring true for you –it’s just not an actual testing environment. Work to be the woman in the second row center of this photo, focused and ready –and not the guy ahead of her.
Unless you can miraculously cram more hours into a day you shouldn’t be doing any cramming the day/night before your test – at this point, if you don’t know the material, you aren’t going to. Rest your brain so you’re fresh for the test. Eat brain and test friendly food the morning of and BE CONFIDENT that you WILL crush this test!
10-Golden Rule (In Life AND in Test-Taking)
NO PROCRASTINATING! You’ve got our tips, the testing schedules (see tip 3 above), and you can access free practice exams. So guess what? You’ve also got weekend plans now!