I cannot apologize enough for being AWOL for a whopping three months! From school work to extracurricular activities and college applications, I have been more than swamped with large amounts of work. However, I only have one more final exam to complete before I graduate high school and prepare to set off to University next fall! Some of my younger readers have been asking for advice regarding applying to college and I decided to create a new series called College Confidential that is dedicated to giving out tips and advice regarding college applications. Today, I will start off the series with one of the first tangible facets of the college application process: standardized test! Here we go:
Tip #1: Purchase study materials – workbooks, flashcards, CD-ROM programs and etc.
This step should be done during either your sophomore year or the summer between your sophomore and junior year of high school. I found that through reviewing the material found in the books for a period of about three to six hours a week was imperative in increasing my scores. I suggest Gruber’s, Barron’s and the Princeton Review!
Tip #2: Join a prep class or hire a private tutor.
In order to gain admission to some of the more selective colleges in the country, a student’s test scores should be at a certain standard. Sometimes, workbooks and studying aren’t enough and outside assistance is needed. Huntington Learning Center and local universities are always a great resource for these types of lessons. Be forewarned that some of these classes can be very expensive, so have a true conversation with either your parents and/or guidance counselor before taking this tip.
Tip #3: Decide which tests you are going to take – every tester is unique!
Depending on where you live, there is usually a misconception as to which of the two preeminent standardized test carry more weight in college decisions. On both the east coast and the west coast, the Scholastic Aptitude Test, better known as the SAT, is seen as the “stronger” exam. In the midwestern region, the American College Testing, better known as the ACT, is seen as the “stronger” exam. In reality, each test is viewed equally. I suggest that you take both tests at least once, and then use that experience to decide which test is better for you. Here is a great article about each test!
Tip #4: Take as many practice exams as humanly possible!
I cannot emphasize this tip enough – practice exams are some of the best ways to study for standardized test out there. Through answering questions similar to those found on the tests, your mind will begin to think like an exam grader. I also suggest grading yourself HONESTLY after each test – these scores will help you assess how to shape your test taking abilities in order to get a higher score.
Tip #5: Take at least one practice exam in a testing environment.
This can be done at either a school or tutoring center. Even though completing practice exams at home can be very helpful, you will never take the SATs on your private desk in your bedroom. These tests will emulate the true exam in both content and environment – and will lead to a more accurate depiction of your score.
Tip #6: Take care of your physical and mental health before and after the exam
Make sure to take regular breaks between studying, eat right and have a good night sleep before any exam. I have seen fellow students put their minds and bodies through the ringer in preparation for the exams, and I would not suggest it to anyone. Know that your health, both physically and emotionally, is more important than any exam!
Tip #7: Take the exam and see how you do!
Now that you have studied up and had a good night’s rest, it is time to take the exam. Remember to stay calm yet alert in order to correctly answer all the questions, and don’t get too down on yourself if your first score isn’t as high as you wished for. You are allowed to take the exams as many times as you want!