Survive Standardized Exams with Your Sanity Intact
Ahh, the flowers are in bloom and the pollen is in the air. Can you smell the stress? That’s right. It’s testing season.
Every spring, thousands of high school students take standardized exams – Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, SAT, and ACT exams. And let’s not even talk about state testing. It’s enough to bring any teen to tears. And it usually does at some point.
But it doesn’t need to bring you to tears. While April and May will still be intense, there are things you can do to make your life easier and be more successful on the standardized exams you take.
How to Survive Standardized Exams
So, here are my tips for getting through testing season with your sanity intact.
1. Start early
Hopefully, you’re not reading this the week before AP tests start. Starting early (at least 6 weeks) will make the process much easier for you. You can spread the studying out over a long period of time. Pace yourself.
Creating a study plan will help you with this process. Testing season is a marathon, not a sprint. Your brain needs to still be firing on all cylinders on the last day of testing.Pace yourself. Testing season is a marathon, not a sprint.Click To Tweet
2. Know what to expect
You need to be familiar with the standardized exam. Hopefully, your teacher has already talked about the particulars of the test. How many multiple choice questions? What type of essays? How long is the test? Knowing what the test will be like, will help you study and prepare better.
3. Pinpoint your weaknesses
Take at least one practice test, preferably 2. You can easily find practice tests by Googling “Practice test + test name”. Taking a practice exam not only builds stamina for the test itself, but you can also figure out your weak areas.
Those are the topics you want to focus your studying on. Don’t waste time studying topics you know well – spend your precious time on topics you need to improve.
4. Study in a variety of methods
Change up your types of studying. If you normally write notes, watch some review videos. If you love flashcards, be sure to make your own study guide.
Join a study group! (If you are short on time, study groups can be a lifeline. Instead of creating study materials for every unit, the work is split amongst the group. Just be sure that the other members will actually hold up their end.)
If you study in your bedroom, move to the backyard on a sunny day. For descriptions of study techniques, check out this post.
5. Ask for help!
If you are struggling to come up with a study plan or understand the importance of the Tanzimat reforms in the late Ottoman Empire (AP World History, anyone?) find someone who can help. I would recommend approaching your teacher first. Then, talk to some of the best students in class; ask them how they are studying and then STEAL THEIR STRATEGIES!Ask the best students how they are studying and then STEAL THEIR STRATEGIES!Click To Tweet
Find a study group to work with. Talk to your parents (Heaven forbid!) Even if they can’t help with IB Math Studies, they might be able to help you create a study plan, run through flash cards, or time a practice test.
And don’t forget tutors! As a private tutor, my job is to help get kids prepared for major exams! If you need more guidance or a helping hand, you can schedule a FREE 30-minute tutoring session with me right here.