How to Ace Standardized Tests | Study Tips : SAT, ACT, AP, GRE, MCAT
Today we’re going to talk about a special kind of test – the sort of test that looms large in your future and acts like a gatekeeper or a turning point in your life.
I’m talking about.
We all have to take them: SAT, ACT, AP, GRE, MCAT.
LSAT! It really never stops until you’re like.
25? 30? It depends on how many schools you’re going to do, and when you go.
We’re all about lifelong learning here Socratic.
One of our friends went to Med school when he was 40, so.
Never say never.
Yeah, he’s a doctor now.
Here at Socratica, amongst our small team, we’ve taken literally DOZENS of standardized tests.
And honestly, we did pretty well.
We’ve noticed that after taking all these tests, you figure out some things are true about almost all of them.
So we’re going to share our best advice with you.
Here is the Socratica Team’s secrets standardized Test Success.
SPOILER: The big picture is to focus on studying what you DON’T know.
How do you do that? With pre-testing.
How do you do THAT? Well, you take practice questions tailored to you.
FIRST, NO CRAMMING.
You’ve heard us say this before.
Get out your calendar and write down the date of the test.
How long do you have before the test?
Please say at least one month.
Two months is better.
You’re going to allow yourself a chunk of time each day to devote to studying for this test.
And the more time you have, that means the smaller those chunks can be.
Ideally, we’re aiming for 15-20 minutes.
Of course, if you’ve waited until like two weeks before the test, you’re going to have to stop almost everything else and focus on this one test.
That’s just not a great plan.
Take our advice and start early.
HOW do you study for a standardized test? To begin with, you have to know something about what the test is like.
Do a little reconnaissance.
Find out: How long is the test.
How many questions are there?
What style are these questions? Is it all Multiple Choice, or are there some sections with a short answer, or even essays? Because you’re going to have to practice all of these differently.
Did you notice I said the P-word? PRACTICE.
This is really the key to your success on standardized tests.
The dirty little secret is, honestly, the questions really aren’t that hard.
At least, they’re not the hardest material in the subject.
Instead, they will be perfectly reasonable, representative questions that test your understanding of the subject.
There won’t be any “gotcha” questions.
You’ll see that when you start taking practice tests.
Get your hands on a good practice test.
A lot of times you can get a genuine test from previous years from ETS or the College Board – or you can buy a big book of practice tests from a test prep company.
Watch to the end for a special gift for our Socratic Friends from Magoosh Online Test Prep! Set aside an afternoon when you have no distractions, and take this practice test with PLENTY of time.
If the test normally takes 90 minutes, give yourself 2 hours.
Make a note of how long you took, and later, LATER, you will work on speeding up.
Take this practice test using the TWO PASStechnique.
That is, you’re going to make two passes through the whole test.
First, you’ll answer any questions where you immediately know the answer and skip the ones you don’t.
On your SECOND PASS through the test, slow down and answer the remaining questions.
Go ahead and answer every question – because we want an accurate picture of what you KNOW, and what you DON’T know.
Score your test.
Don’t be afraid, this is just for you.
We’re just figuring out where you are now.
Look at all the questions you missed.
Were there anywhere you genuinely didn’t know the answer? Like, on the SAT, I missed “Fracas” because I just didn’t recognize the word, and I couldn’t seem to break it down into its roots.
I mean, you know, that’s okay.
I still remember that I missed that word, that’s all.
Now I know it for sure, right? My point is the vast majority of the testis stuff you know.
There MAY be a few gaps in your knowledge, but you have plenty of time to review that specific kind of math problem or beef up your vocabulary.
So what makes standardized tests hard, if it’s not the material? It’s more the timing.
You have to be able to answer questions quickly and not get distracted.
You need to work on your focus muscles.
AND you need to be able to answer a question to the best of your ability and move on.
Don’t waste time arguing with yourself about“maybe?.
This answer could POSSIBLY be right?.
Don’t do that.
Overthinking on standardized tests is a big problem for some people.
The more you practice, the better you’ll at letting these internal doubts go.
What if you genuinely don’t know the answer? Should you guess during the real test? You need to understand how your test is scored.
Is there a guessing penalty? Like, back when I took the SAT, there was a guessing penalty, and you’d get dinged a quarter of a point for every question you miss.
So it wasn’t a good idea to guess if you had no idea and you couldn’t eliminate any of the answers.
But now, on the SAT and the ACT, no guessing penalty! So don’t you DARE leave a single question blank.
Now that you’ve taken a practice test, it’s time to start studying to boost your score.
You may have a handful of topics you need to review.
Again, it’s best if you study in small chunks every day.