From MCATs to LSATs to RN certs to writing requirements, testing in college isn’t always limited to what’s seen on the syllabus. Students who wish to become certified in their industry, for example, must first do well on rigorous, nationally standardized tests, and many colleges even have their own standardized tests that are required for graduation.
But it’s all much easier said than done. Especially when students try to pass these tests alongside a full class load and even fuller life load. To help get you started, here are some of the major dos and don’ts of standardized testing, from the planning phase to test time.
Do schedule heavily. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can squeeze in studying for your standardized test on the bus, during meals, or as a “break” from your regularly scheduled studying. Doing well on standardized tests when you’re already extremely busy starts with careful and written-out planning.
Don’t set a numerical goal. Tests differ every year. As such, historical scores, percentiles, and averages never really mean anything for your particular testing year. So rather than setting numerical goals and getting caught up in the statistics, ease the pressure and up the motivation by simply setting study goals.
Do make a study guide. Chances are you’ve been preparing for your standardized test long before you even signed up for it. So separate what you already know from what you still need help on by making a brief list of topics. Then, find old class notes and read up in review books to freshen up on material and address weaknesses.
Don’t do it alone. These days, there are endless resources to help students study for certifications and tests. Check out local study groups, tutors, online videos, forums, and practice tests. If you need assistance in locating the very best and the most affordable resources for your test, contact your Student Assistance Program.
Do strategize. A good test strategy starts with researching the ins and outs and “rules” of your particular test. If there are sections you know you’ll be better at, for example, plan on answering those questions first. If you know that there is no penalty for wrong answers, be prepared to take educated guesses. Any information you can get on the test can be turned into an advantage for you.
Don’t forget to relax. It can’t be overstated how hard it is to study for standardized tests on top of your classes. Take a break whenever you need to, vent to others, and don’t rule out putting off your test until the next cycle. The last thing you want is for your desire to do well on your test to come at the expense of everything else you having going on.
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