5 Tips for Preparing for Standardized Tests

Posted by Chris Zhang

July 25, 2019 at 9:30 AM

SAT ACT Test Prep

Tip #1: Start Preparing Early

How many times have you said “I’ll do it later” or “I can do it tomorrow?” How many times have you waited the night before to complete an assignment or study for a test? Procrastination is one of the deadliest detriments to our society, and it is something that plagues everyone, but when it comes to the SAT/ACT, it’s something that should be stamped out.

Unfortunately, preparing for the SAT/ACT is painfully boring, unless you’re using an entertaining platform to prepare for the SAT/ACT like Prepmedians, but what sounds worse? Studying for 7 hours a week for 3 to 4 months (an hour a day) or cramming 40-50 hours the week before the test (around 6 hours a day)? If you’re anything like me, yo uwould rather only have to do 1 hour of prep a day. And say you do like cramming, do you really think you’re going to accomplish much on that 6th hour of doing practice problems? Starting early makes your studying time more efficient and makes the experience much more bearable.

Tip #2: Plan Your Time

Starting early is important, but it isn’t that effective without a plan. Why do you think schools often give out planners or centralize all due dates on an online platform? It’s easier to accomplish your goals when you are more organized and plan a schedule for yourself.

Setting aside dedicated time blocks to studying prevents procrastination and forces you to accomplish the task written in that time block. This is even more helpful when you tell a parent, sibling, or friend about these time blocks because they can hold you accountable to following through with your plan. Organizing your time also allows you to have a focused attack on preparing for the SAT/ACT rather than just blindly studying or doing practice problems. For example, you should dedicate one week to studying math, one week to studying grammar, etc.

Note: It’s important to organize your time in a flexible manner. If you’re strong in math, then it makes more sense to focus on studying the Reading section and vice versa. If you feel like you know the material well enough, then it makes more sense to focus on simulating the test and doing practice tests rather than doing practice problems. Prepmedians creates 20 minute modules (5 minuts of questions before a video, 5-10 minutes of video, and 5 minutes of questions after a video) so that you can plan what you want to do in a much easier way. For example, if you want to spend an houra day working on test prep, just complete 3 modules a day! Also, you can retry question sets as many times as you want and each time the order of the questions will be randomized.

Tip #3: Take Practice Tests Under Test-like Conditions

This may seem silly, but test day is stressful and puts you in a different mindset than just doing the test in the comfort of your house. Think of take-home tests: something every student loves and anxiously awaits. Obviously, they’re easier than regular tests because you can just look up the answers without any repercussions, but you’re also not under the pressure of a time clock or in the mindset that you have to know the answer to the question.

When doing practice tests, you should sit in an actual desk, simulate breaks, turn your phone on silent and use a timer for each section. The more similar and realistic you can make your practice test environment to the actual test-taking environment, the better. This way you’ll be less thrown off at the actual pace of the test and be more confident when taking the test. You can access free SAT practice tests at khanacademy.com and you can access free ACT practice tests at act.org.

Tip #4: Learn Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Not everyone’s good at math. Not everyone’s good at Reading. Everyone has areas they struggle in, whether that be generally like math or specifically like grammar rules, but what separates the top scorers from the rest is how they approach their weaknesses. As mentioned earlier, dedicating more time on studying your weaknesses is important when preparing for the SAT/ACT, but it’s helpful during the test too. A common mistake while taking the SAT/ACT is that students spend too much time on certain questions and miss other questions they could have answered. Knowing your weaknesses eliminates this possibility since you’ll know to skip a question and come back to it later just by seeing what concept the question is testing. Prepmedians lets you track your progress on your own profile so that you can see which skills you need to improve upon by test day!

Tip #5: Find a Test Prep for You

There are thousands of test prep books available, plenty of online tutoring available and plenty of in-person tutoring available. Each has their pros and cons. Our recommendation is Prepmedians because it alleviates the pressure and painful boredom of preparing for standardized tests since we teach SAT/ACT material through sketch comedy and music. We make test prep more enjoyable and something to look forward to rather than an obligation. Yes, students ACTUALLY say they look forward to learning their SAT/ACT test prep with our platform! Believe it or not, test prep really can be fun.

If you don’t feel prepared come test day, don’t panic! It’s not the end of the world. Remember, you can always retake the SAT/ACT, and there’s always superscoring for those who did well on one section but not on the whole test. Ignore the pressure. Look forward to how rewarding all your work and effort will be once the college process is done and how much fun the next 4 years at your dream school will be!

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Posted by Chris Zhang

Chris scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT in high school and is currently study Economics and Data Science at Colby College. Fun fact: The only movie he ever cried in was Fast and Furious 7.