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Friday, September 16, 2011

Standardized Testing is FUN!!!!!

Just kidding, it's not. But here's how to make it bearable.

Okay, so for my fellow United States students, the ACT and SAT might as well be a four letter word. (I'm not sure how the system is in other countries, so sorry!)

I'm a junior and I have yet to take the ACT or the SAT but I have taken prep classes and I've taken a SAT II Subject Test. I'm not an expert by any means, but I hope my steps to preparation can help others plan.

1. I enrolled in an ACT/SAT prep class that was held through my school district. Truth be told, I don't think the classes were worth what we paid for them and I honestly thought some of it was a waste of time- but that's my PERSONAL opinion. These classes (or at least the ones I took) came with a booklet of practice tests, drills and helpful tips for succeeding. This alone is a very helpful tool. The teachers for the class were mediocre at best (again, this depends on the district) and mostly went through problems without actually telling you tips or giving little "what to expect" tidbits. I was disappointed, but the booklets are going to be very useful.

2. I plan on taking the ACT twice, because in my state the ACT is favored. Taking a test is always a good option if you have the money/time/will for it because there is ALWAYS the chance to improve, even by a couple of points (which could make all the difference).

3. At my school, taking the PSAT and PLAN (pre- SAT and ACT, respectively) is required, and it's very good. The PSAT could possibly make you a merit scholar and give you loads of scholarship money. Taking the PLAN gives you a projected ACT score and also a career suggestion for college. Both of these pre-tests are very helpful, especially because you can see what you got wrong and how to improve. There is nothing better than taking a pre-test because it's very similar to the real test and doesn't count!

4. Buy prep books! Self explanatory, if reading material is a good way for you to learn then buying a prep book is key. There are a variety to choose from, so pick one you like and get to it!

5. I took a SAT II Subject Test in Biology last spring. It is very much like the SAT in the fact that guessing counts against you (-1/4 point for every WRONG answer, 0 points for every answer left blank) and is a good prep in itself. However, most colleges don't care about these tests, though it is a little added bonus on your application (though, you probably won't get any credits or special treatment for it if you do well). If you do take these tests, make sure to do so AFTER you have completed the course-- not before and definitely not more than 6 months later! Your memory will be too flushed by then to remember anything!

6. Relax. All these tests can be taken multiple times. And think about it-- many questions are asked every day and you are required to answer them. Standardized testing questions have answers. How often are the answers given to you in real life? Just pick one.

7. Watch "The Perfect Score" if you need a study break. For some reason, I really like that movie. :)

Hope this helps any worried juniors or seniors! If you're in college and have any advice to share, feel free to add anything in the comments!


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