How to Score High on Standardized Tests

Whether you’re in high school, college, or getting ready to enter graduate school, a standardized test is probably in your future. There are many stigmas that surround standardized exams. Most often they are negative. AP exams, SATs, LSATs, GREs, DATs, MCATs. If hearing these acronyms makes you sweat a little, relax. I have some tips that will help you score high on your standardized exam.

Research the Test

Researching will become your best friend. The best part about standardized exams is that they are, well, standardized. This means that they follow a predictable structure and this is great as you start to prepare. Learn the tips and tricks that are unique to the exam you’re studying for. I suggest joining forums and talking to people you know already taken the test. Having a good understanding of the structure of the test and the topics, its covers can help you in the next step.

Prepare for the Test

Talking to people and interacting in forums is a great way to find out about useful study materials. Before you begin studying try to gather all the relevant materials you’ll need. Maybe you’ll need to buy a study book or practice guide. Maybe online videos will be all you need. Then come up with a plan for how long you’re going to study and which topics you’ll cover. When I was preparing for the DAT (Dental Admissions Test), I knew I’d need to study for about eight weeks. So I made a schedule of all the videos I’d watch and chapters I’d read each day. I even planned when I’d take practice exams.

Do What Works For You

Figure out what type of learner you are and what study methods work best for you. Flash cards might work for your friends, but maybe rewriting your notes is what works best for you. Sometimes hearing about what’s effective for others can make you feel like you have to use that method. Everyone’s different. Embrace your learning methods because that’s what’s going to get you the high score. Don’t feel discouraged if you have to change your study habits midway.

Inhale. Exhale.

One of the primary reasons people don’t do well on exams is because of anxiety. While doing the steps above can help boost your confidence, exam day can be scary. My advice is to plan to stop studying a few hours before bedtime the night before. By this time, you’ve learned all you can. So put the books away. Literally put them away; this is a trigger for your brain to move on and think about something else. Then do what you find relaxing. Take a bubble bath. Watch your favorite movie. Then get eight hours of sleep. Eat a healthy breakfast in the morning. Breathe and take the exam. Trust me. You can do this!

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