Have a big test coming up? Don’t fret! Rethink the way you prepare with these three helpful tips from Olympia, WA tutor Tali H…
It’s that time of year again. The time when students everywhere are hunkered down, studying for exams. If you’re like most people, you probably have a love/hate relationship with studying. You know it’s important, but it’s also really not very fun.
But what if there was a way to make studying actually enjoyable? We’re not saying it will be easy, but if you’re willing to put in the effort, it is possible. Here are some of the best test prep techniques to help you ace any exam.
What Are the Four A’s Used for Test Preparation Planning?
As anyone who has ever taken a test knows, preparation is key to success. But what is the best way to prepare for a test? The Four A’s Approach can be an effective way to plan for test taking, and include:
- Anticipate: Anticipating the types of questions that will be on the test can help you better focus your study time and limit anxiety.
- Acquire: Acquiring the needed information can be done through listening in class, reading the textbook, and reviewing notes.
- Analyze: Analyzing the material you need to know will help you identify what is most important. Apply: Applying the material by taking practice tests can help you become more comfortable with the material and better able to apply it on test day.
By using the Four A’s Approach, you can develop a plan that will help you make the most of your study time and improve your chances for success on test day.
Still in need of some help? Sign up for tutoring with TakeLessons! No matter the subject, you’ll learn the strategies you need to be successful. Find out more by watching this video:
What Are 10 Test Taking Strategies?
You’ve probably heard it said that taking tests is more about how you take the test than about what you know. If college has taught us anything, it’s that this statement is 100% true.
A bad test taker can easily sabotage their own chances of getting a good grade, even if they studied religiously for the exam. Conversely, a good test taker can coast by with a mediocre understanding of the material and still walk away with a great score.
So, what separates the good test takers from the bad? In this blog post, we’ll give you 10 tips to help you become a better test taker.
Get plenty of rest the night before the test. A good night’s sleep will help improve your concentration and focus when you need it most. Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep so you can wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the exam head-on.
Eat breakfast on the day of the test. Just like a good night’s sleep, eating breakfast will help improve your focus and concentration. Breakfast “breaks the fast” after sleeping and provides your body and brain with essential nutrients and energy to power through the morning—and your exam.
3. Be On Time
Arrive early to class on test day so you can have a few minutes to relax and clear your head before starting the exam. If possible, find a seat near the front of the room so you’re less likely to get distracted by other students during the test.
4. Understand the Directions
Read through all of the directions before starting the test so you understand what is expected of you. This may seem like an obvious tip, but you’d be surprised how many students jump right into taking the test without reading (and understanding) the instructions first!
5. Take Your Time
Work through each question one at a time and don’t move on until you’re sure you’ve answered it correctly. If you’re unsure about an answer, skip it for now and come back later if you have time remaining at the end of the exam—you don’t want to waste valuable time dwelling on just one question when there are others that you could be getting right.
Scan through all of the questions before starting to answer them so you can prioritize which ones to answer first based on difficulty level or point value (if applicable). This will help ensure that you use your time wisely and don’t get bogged down by tough questions while ignoring easier ones that could give you a quick boost in points.
7. Categorize and Prioritize
Answer questions in order of easiest to hardest—this is similar to tip #6, but worth mentioning separately as well! Tackling tough questions first can lead to frustration and cause you to lose focus on subsequent questions, so it’s often best save those for later when your brain is fresh (and hopefully rested).
Check your work for errors before turning in your exam—even if time is running out! This extra step can mean the difference between passing and failing, so it’s always worth taking those last few seconds to review your answers for mistakes before handing in your exam (or clicking “submit” if it’s an online exam).
9. Type if You Can
If the test allows it, typing your answers instead of writing them out by hand can save time and help reduce mistakes.
10. Be Confident In Your Abilities
No one knows everything – everyone makes mistakes sometimes! The key is to learn from those mistakes so you can do better next time around.
3 Awesome Test Prep Techniques That Apply to Any Exam
It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for GRE test prep tips, ACT test prep advice, or even SAT test prep help. The same strategies apply to any sort of exam.
In order to make test prep “FUN,” you need to – in a sense – forget that what you’re learning is test prep. It’s all about the outlook, distracting yourself, and actually believing (or finding a way to convince yourself) that what you’re learning is worthwhile.
There are, of course, way more than three test prep techniques to consider. However, these three test prep techniques are some of the best – and can be applied to any test you ever take.
1. The Right Motivation is Key
Let’s think fitness for a second. Now, say you tell yourself, “I must work out. I need to run five miles, do 100 sit-ups, hold a plank for five minutes, etc.” This sounds like a lot of work. It sounds draining. I’m tired before I even begin. But say you think something more along the lines of, “I must work out. To accomplish my goal, I’m going to play a sport. I’ll join a soccer team.” Although the goal is the same (to work out), the motivation will be coming from different sources. In the first scenario, you’re the one pushing yourself. You have a specific goal to reach that can seem daunting. However, in the second scenario, the motivator shifts from being you, to your team and your coach.
With studying, motivation is key. If you focus on a specific set of goals (a certain number of pages you must read in a textbook, a certain number of practice problems you must do), you’re draining your energy by focusing on trivial elements that don’t matter. Instead, stay motivated by focusing on quality over quantity. Figure out what your main goal is, aside from just the test. Let’s take the SAT as an example test prep scenario. Rather than thinking of it as a test you must pass to get into a prestigious college, think of it as simply a tool to measure your logic. Make the end goal increasing your general vocabulary, knowledge, and logical deduction skills.
2. Work for the Test, Think for the “Party”
We covered that motivation is key. But what are some of the really good ways to motivate yourself? One of the main places I derive my motivation from, especially in tests that apply more broadly (like the SAT and ACT, which tend to test logic and knowledge), is by thinking of what I’m learning as “party tricks.”
Imagine someone who does yoga. They’ve come up on a really tricky pose – say a headstand or an arm balance. What keeps them going (other than the inner passion, of course)? What makes the thought of falling, possibly embarrassing oneself in the moment no more than a fleeting thought? In many cases, it’s the knowledge that once the trick is perfected it will feel great to do and perhaps you can awe those around you, and maybe even become the center of attraction at a party.
Taking it back to test prep, look at what you’re learning as future conversation starters and builders.Turn the words you must learn for English metamorphose from something you’re learning for a class into an enhanced vocabulary that will woo everyone at the next social event you go to. If you’re lucky, it may even land you a better job. Can you comprehend the word S-U-C-C-E-S-S?
3. Compete, Compete, Compete – Even if it’s Just With Yourself
After you find some good motivation, it helps to distract yourself from the thought of test prep as well. One of the best methods for this is competition – especially with yourself. In these instances, it’s mostly about time. Hence, the clock often becomes your new best friend. A big factor in test taking is being able to move quickly through problems, so attempting to beat the clock is not only a good way to compete with yourself but it will also improve your speediness (which is extremely useful on timed tests like the SAT and ACT).
For learning vocabulary or anything with memorization (math facts, the elements of the periodic table, etc.), use Quizlet.com. This site has many different options, all of which are completely free of charge. To start, you must have a set of “cards” to study with. Lucky for users, there are many great sets already created. All you have to do is type in key words in the search bar (for example: “SAT words,” “geometry,” “economics,” etc.). The other option is to make your own set, which I highly recommend. This way you are completely familiar with the words you’re creating and you’re going through the material again to find the words you want to test yourself on (thereby actively determining what’s important to know). You can also type in question/answer pairs that you make up yourself so the “cards” aren’t all just vocabulary based.
Once you have a set to work with, you can use the basic “flashcard” mode to familiarize yourself with the set. You can also do the “learn mode”, which is where you can get competitive (this is an improvement game that doesn’t rely on time). To really compete with yourself, play either “Scatter”, in which the virtual cards are scattered on the screen and you have to match up the two that go together, or “Space Race”, in which the prompt card runs across the screen and you have to enter the correct answer before it gets out of sight.
If Quizlet doesn’t resonate with you, you can also come up with creative ways to challenge yourself by doing it the old-fashioned way: grabbing a set of problems and starting the clock after setting a particular time goal. Also, there are many other websites offering similar games in slightly different formats. In an Internet search, type in “test prep games” and see what comes up (the more specific you get, e.g. ‘geometry test prep games,’ the better your search results will be).
Where to Find Test Preparation Online Help
With so many options available for test prep online, it can be hard to know where to start when looking for test preparation help online. However, with a little bit of research, you can find the right program or service to help you ace your exams. Here are a few things to keep in mind when searching for test prep help online.
First, have a clear idea of what you need help with.
Are you struggling with a specific subject? Do you need help better understanding the material? Or do you just need someone to give you some extra practice questions? Once you know what kind of help you need, you can start narrowing down your options.
Consider your budget. There are free and paid test prep programs and services available online. If cost is a major factor, there are still plenty of options to choose from. However, keep in mind that you often get what you pay for. In general, paid programs will offer more comprehensive and personalized assistance than their free counterparts.
Do your research. Once you know what kind of help you need and how much you’re willing to spend, it’s time to start looking at different programs and services. Ask around for recommendations from friends, family, and classmates who have used test prep help before. Once you’ve compiled a list of potential options, read reviews and compare pricing to find the best fit for you.
Try it out! Once you’ve found a program or service that seems like a good fit, why not try it out? Many test prep programs offer free trials so that you can get a feel for the material before committing to anything long-term. This is also a good opportunity to see if the program’s teaching style is a good fit for your learning style.
These Exam Preparation Tips for Students Can Help Anyone Succeed
When it comes to finding test preparation help online, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, by keeping these tips in mind, you can narrow down your options and find the right program or service to meet your needs and help you ace your exams.
And if you’re still stuck? Give TakeLessons a try! We offer some of the best test prep techniques and assistance, no matter what kind of test you’re trying to take (and ace!).
You’ve got this!
Tali H. tutors in various academic subjects in Olympia, WA, as well as through online lessons. Since 2010, she has worked with numerous students in elementary, middle, high school, and college in both group settings and one-on-one. Learn more about Tali here!
Photo by Deb Stgo