Strategies for Acing Standardized Tests – SAT, ACT and more!
- January 18, 2024
- Posted by: Phuong Ng
- Category: Education
At every juncture in life, unique anxieties befall us. As grown-ups, we take on the responsibilities of working and earning a living while our students have their concerns. So, what captures the hearts and minds of our students? Savvycle’s team recently conducted a survey involving 50 school-age students, and astonishingly, 90% of them confessed that standardized tests are their biggest obsession. It is because these tests hold a special significance, symbolizing not just your abilities but also your ongoing learning period. If the result is not good, students will lose enthusiasm for learning. Each challenge we encounter in our daily life comes with its methods and tricks to overcome it. In this blog, the Savvycle team passionately offers you strategies for taking standardized tests.
Before we delve into strategies for excelling in standardized tests, it’s essential to grasp what standardized tests are. Standardized tests are assessments designed to measure a student’s knowledge, skills, or aptitude consistently and uniformly. They are typically administered and scored under standardized conditions, ensuring a level playing field for all test-takers. Some standardized tests can be listed such as SAT, GMAT …
After understanding the concept, we will talk about the strategies for taking standardized tests. Here are some steps to help you have good results in standardized tests:
Preparing for standardized tests
The preparation stage not only streamlines the tasks but also aids in familiarizing ourselves with the surroundings and predicting the challenges or mistakes we may encounter during the process.
Mastering your knowledge
To prepare for the upcoming exam, one of the most important things you need to do is master the knowledge that will appear in the exam. It means this process will take place throughout your academic journey. During your study time, you should take note, and save the document containing the knowledge about the lectures so that in the preparation stage, you can review and remind again the knowledge quickly.
Understanding the format of the test
Each test comes with its unique format and structure. Let’s take IELTS as an example, which comprises four distinct skill-based tests: writing, listening, reading, and speaking. To excel in each of these tests, it is essential to thoroughly comprehend the specific format of the test you’re going to take. For example, with the reading section, one specific format is matching headings. To do this, you should read and learn some tips such as:
- Finding the keywords
- Any similarities or differences between the headings should be noted
- Read the first and last sentence of the paragraph
- The heading that is most suitable for the paragraph should be chosen
Therefore, for every format you should familiarize yourself with the particulars of how to approach it effectively.
More practice, better result
Studies show that practice exams are the best way to prepare for real exams. This is because they implement spaced retrieval practice, with the learner pulling the information out of their memory when applying it to the question, which hardens that information in memory (Oakley & Sejnowski, 2018). From our perspective, we would like to offer some useful tips when doing practice exams:
- Find sources to do the mock exam on Google by searching mock exam or practice test keywords.
- Set a time limit as you are going to take a real exam in class.
- Compare the answer key with your test
- Pay close attention to types of exercises having a higher percentage of incorrect answers.
By doing practice exams, you can pinpoint specific areas that require additional focus and improvement. This will enhance the chance of success when facing standardized tests.
II. Test-taking strategies during standardized tests
Strategically divide your time
For effective time management, it is recommended to read the whole question carefully in 5-10 minutes. Remember to always attend to questions that you are most confident about first and do not get stuck on challenging questions. Skip the difficult ones and come back to the time later if the time permits. You should have 5 minutes to check your answer again at the end.
Don’t fear the exam, make the exam fears you
During the actual survey, the Savvycle team observed that most students experience stress and nervousness throughout the examination process. When identifying the causes of students’ psychological pressure, they mostly answer that the reasons usually come from time constraints, the surrounding atmosphere, score pressure, and the overwhelming amount of knowledge to memorize. Therefore, the best solution to overcome this fear is not to put too much pressure on yourself. After all, the scores only evaluate one part of the process. Just avoid putting too much pressure on yourself, and your brain will be at ease. At that moment, you will feel confident in yourself and complete the test better than you could have imagined.
Taking notes is helpful
Taking notes during the examination not only helps to address the issue of forgetting information but also provides several other benefits. Note-taking enhances your focus on each crucial detail of the question. Another benefit of note-taking is helping you manage your time effectively. It provides a way to “engage in a dialogue” with the exam. You can jot down thoughts, ideas, and even questions that you can revisit later. This helps alleviate pressure and keeps your mind alert and flexible. You can try different methods of taking notes for example: Mindmap, traditional notes, …
You may like : How to Take Effective Notes Using Mind Maps
The night before your exams, just have a good sleep with a relaxing mind. Avoid the temptation to cram all the material in one night or rely solely on memorizing answer keys. Instead, focus on getting adequate rest to ensure your mind is sharp and well-rested for the challenges ahead. Research consistently shows that a well-rested brain performs better on cognitive tasks. Additionally, try engaging in calming activities before bedtime, such as light reading or meditation, to help ease any pre-exam jitters. Remember, luck often favors those who approach exams with a clear and rested mind rather than those who stress and cram at the last minute.
III. After taking standardized test
Review your test to improve
When you receive your test paper back, take note of the types of questions you answered incorrectly. Then, analyze why your answers were wrong and make corrections. Instead of focusing too much on the grade, pay attention to the mistakes to identify your strengths and weaknesses. After making corrections, you can consult professors or ask friends whether your answers are correct. If they have alternative answers, you can learn from them.
Note the difficulties during your exam
Take note of any difficulties you faced during the test. Were there particular question types that stumped you? Identifying these challenges will help you focus your future study efforts. And you will practice again to improve your next standardized tests.
In essence, our blog post passionately discusses strategies for taking standardized tests. These methods span stages from before the test, during the test, and after the test. We fervently hope that this blog post will bring you valuable insights. Remember, just by applying these methods, you will achieve excellent results in your upcoming test. Embrace the challenge and let your passion for learning shine through!
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