Students of all ages, from high school freshmen to college seniors, have their own understanding of what constitutes effective test prep. Some swear by after-class review sessions, some go the self-study route by reviewing their own study guides and others may prefer to work with a tutor.
Regardless of your preferred method of study, it is critical to incorporate practice problems into your routine, and organized practice tests are quite an effective way to do that. With so many practice problems freely available on the Internet, why not make it a significant part of your study process? Here are some reasons to do so:
1. You’ll know what types of questions (and answers!) to expect
It is one thing to understand all of the concepts that will be covered on the test; however, it is another thing altogether to actually understand the format of how you will be asked about that information.
You must know whether to expect a simple multiple-choice question, a comparison question, a short response question or something else. Additionally, practice tests will familiarize you with the various types of answer choices that are offered. For example, will “all of the above” or “none of the above” be one of the standard selections? Recognizing answer formats will save you time when evaluating answer choices on test day.
2. You can learn why your incorrect answers were wrong – and why the correct ones were correct
Many of the more comprehensive practice test resources out there will provide explanations detailing the solution and strategy for reaching the correct answer. While you can locate an answer key at the back of most math textbooks or look over your teacher’s notes in the margin of your English essay, understanding the reasoning behind answers to specific questions is also critical to ensuring that you can properly apply the general theory or formula to a particular problem.
Understanding why certain answers make sense (or don’t make sense) is a crucial step in improving your progress. It will ensure you are able to apply the correct knowledge to new problems and also prevent you from repeating mistakes.
3. You’ll get used to the test-taking experience
Sitting down to stare at a myriad of problems for hours on end is not a routine assignment for most of us. Incorporating this experience into your regular study routine will provide your brain with much-needed exercise for this test-taking mentality. Test endurance is a critical component of adequate test preparation and being able to focus and avoid routine errors will ultimately add points to your score.
If all you do in the months or weeks leading up to the test is read notes and review flashcards, you might be prepared to effectively explain the material to people, but you will likely not have developed the effective time management and process of elimination skills that practice tests help instill in you.
4. You can take practice tests as many times as you like and monitor your progress over time
You can and should use practice tests consistently to assess progress toward your ultimate score. Odds are you won’t get a perfect score your first attempt, so take comfort in the fact that practice tests – particularly ones with ample diagnostic indicators – can help you identify where your weaknesses lie.
You can develop a personalized study plan designed for your unique needs. With that information in hand, you will be able to study effectively and maximize your chances of achieving your desired score come test day.
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