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Making the Most of Standardized Test Prep

Since the ACT standardized test covers those areas specific to the high school core curriculum (Reading, English, Science and Math), students are exposed to much of the content throughout their years in high school. While additional study and review of these subjects can certainly be beneficial to standardized test takers, it isn’t feasible to cram everything a student "should" have learned in high school into a few weeks or days of test preparation.

A great deal of the stress that students experience about taking standardized tests is related more to a combination of test anxiety and fear of the unknown rather than to unfamiliarity with the material. The most comprehensive standardized test prep efforts provide students with a combination of standardized test taking strategies and review of the content likely to be covered on the test.

For many students, the most valuable type of standardized test preparation involves working through standardized test practice tests. These tests help familiarize students in the manner in which standardized test questions are likely to be phrased and also provide valuable content review. By working through practice tests, students become experienced with the format of standardized tests.

To get the greatest benefit from standardized test practice tests:

  • Take practice tests designed specifically as practice material for the standardized test you are planning to take.
  • Score the practice tests that you complete.
  • Look at the questions that you got right and see if you can isolate the strategies you used to figure out the correct answer.
  • Look at the incorrect answers for the questions you missed and see if you can figure out why you missed them.
  • Look closely at the structure of the questions to see how you could have eliminated the incorrect answers.
  • Pay attention to patterns in the types of subject matter you are missing to see if you need to seek tutoring or a formal test prep course.

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