5 Steps to Push Your Test Prep into Gear
Standardized tests are scary, let’s be real. A lot of my friends who are juniors have been coming to me and flipping out about how to study and if they need tutors for test prep and blahblahblah.
HAVE NO FEAR. I promise, you will survive, and worst case scenario, you take the test again, as many times as you need to!
Here are some basic steps to take in order to prepare for these monsters:
- Decide whether you want to take the ACT or the SAT.
First, look at your school’s testing requirements. Some require a certain test, so keep that in mind.
If all your schools give you a choice, here’s what you do.Do some research and consider the differences between the two tests.The tried and true way of doing this is to take practice tests of both, and if one feels better than the other, aim to take that one. Notice how I said feels; maybe you felt more comfortable taking the SAT, even if your score wasn’t so high. That’s the point of practicing. Your score will improve, but now you know which test is right for you.
- Buy some books.
Now that you know what test you want to take, buy some books to prepare! There are a million companies making these prep books. I suggest you buy a few, and then buy one that has just a bunch of practice tests. DEFINITELY buy the College Board’s official guide and The Real ACT book (both are pictured). These books are your keys. The next step: you have to use them!
- USE YOUR BOOKS.
You bought the books…use them! Within those books lays all the information you need. Everything you need to know can be found in these prep books—that’s what they’re designed for. Start reading and practicing.These books are usually organized in some way, so focus on your weaker areas and work outwards to other pieces. Find a way of navigating the books that works for you.
- Schedule time on specific days to study.
You will not be as motivated to study unless you force yourself to make a schedule like this. I wrote out days and times when I would prepare reading, writing, math, science, or a practice test. That way, I wouldn’t make excuses or find ways to procrastinate, so the work all got done!Scheduling is a masterful way of ensuring your work gets done and you prepare correctly for your test.
- Take practice tests. Like, a LOT of practice tests.
When you schedule the time to take a practice test, make sure you practice the way you play. Schedule at least 4 hours of uninterrupted time to sit down without any distractions and take the test the way it’s meant to be taken. This is the only way you will get an accurate idea of how you will score. Pretend this practice is the real deal. Put batteries in your calculator. Set a timer. Have a clean workspace with #2 pencils and adequate lighting.If you practice this way at least 5 or 6 times before the real test, you will be SO prepared. It will become second nature, the same way playing a sports game prepares you for playing in the next game, because it’s the real deal.
Now, time to get to work! Follow these steps, and I promise you will feel so prepared. Scheduling will take some stress off and help you balance the work. Practicing over and over will make you feel so good about the test, relieving even more pretest stress!