By Jason DeVelvis
Study, Study, Study
The worst thing you can do before a standardized test is not study. There aren't many people who can just waltz into the testing room and ace one without any test preparation. You have to buckle down, take those practice tests, and most of all LEARN from your mistakes on them!
Speaking of Practice Tests
Get some, and use them. These will probably be the most valuable things you can get your hands on besides the test answers themselves. (Not to mention practice tests aren't illegal... stealing the answers is) First, get yourself at least three different copies of the practice tests, and for the first test, take as long as you want, and work through each question. No stress. Then for the second practice test, time yourself. Still don't worry about how long it takes you, but be aware of what types of questions take you the longest. Next, time yourself again, but don't go very much over the time limit. Maybe 5 minutes max. Again, pay attention to what types of questions you're taking the most time on. Finally, on the last practice test or two, time yourself and stick to it. Don't go over the time limit. While you're taking the test, make sure you remember which types of questions gave you trouble, and if you can't answer one of those right off the bat, move on then come back to it if you have time. There is no use missing a couple of "easy" questions because you spent too much time on one you couldn't figure out. You can always come back for a hard one, but you can't get the easy ones you didn't answer back after the time limit.
Hopefully that headline will help you remember this during your test preparation, as well as when you actually take the test. ALWAYS read the directions - for every test, every section, every question. If there are directions there, read them. Period. If you don't read the directions, you may answer incorrectly or spend too much time trying to figure out a question that you shouldn't have had a hard time with if you had read the directions. I cannot stress this enough - READ the directions!
Be Well Rested
The worst thing you can do is pull an "all-nighter" the night before a big test. It is almost guaranteed to ruin your test preparation. Think about it - taking a test is stressful, and your body can only take so much stress before you have to sleep it off. If you don't sleep (or don't sleep much) the night before a big standardized test, chances are the stress of the test will take its toll on your body, and your brain will begin to react more slowly. You will miss things you should have otherwise noticed, miss questions you should have known, etc. You can't afford to do this on a standardized test.
Along that same note, show up to the test site early. That way, if you forget something, you've got time to go get it. That will help reduce your stress level, and thus, help increase your score. Again, too much stress will ruin all of the test preparation you've done.
Remember What You Learned From The Practice Tests
Remember when I said that you should pay attention to the types of questions you stumble over during your test preparation? Remember that when you're taking the test. If you're getting stuck on a question, skip it and come back. Just like you did during the practice tests. You're better off trying to come back if you have time left over than you are wasting time on a question you might get wrong anyway. Go do the questions you can answer quickly! And if you've got time left over after you've answered all of the questions, go back and re-read them all and make sure your answers are right. At this point, you can afford to wrestle with an quetion that you stumbled over. However, remember this - your first instinct is usually the best one. Don't talk yourself out of an answer you know is right.
Standardized tests aren't the be-all end-all. There are plenty of people out there who didn't do well on standardized tests at all, and they're doing quite well for themselves. It's not the end of the world if you don't get a good score, just do some more test preparation and give it another try!
About The Author
Jason DeVelvis got a 32 on his ACTs after following the steps in this article. You can do it too!