Each new school year brings annual standardized testing for high school students. Starting with the PSAT in October of each year, standardized tests including the SAT, ACT, APs, and SAT Subject Tests fly at you fast and furious. With increasing pressure on educators to assess student performance, the pressure on parents to ensure that their children are prepared to succeed mounts considerably as well. To succeed overall, it is important for you to plan, prepare, and practice in order to perform. These “4Ps” will enable you to reach your target score and fortify your confidence as you begin to tackle these exams. So what can you do to get ready?
Your first step to a successful college admissions exam experience is to develop a plan. As you develop your plan, outline when you will register and take each test as well as what you will do to prepare for each test. Make sure you allot sufficient preparation time, which typically means giving yourself about three months to boost your scores before test day. However, the earlier you start, the more time you have to ensure you reach your “target score.”
2. Prepare and Practice
After you’ve developed a plan, you must begin to prepare! Research your top 3-5 colleges, and determine your “target score” for each exam you plan to take. Your target score should be equal to or higher than the scores reported by the schools on your list. You don’t want to take these tests without ample preparation; just like any sport or musical instrument you play, practice is the key to reaching your target score. Begin your practice early, and study daily (if only for 30-90 minutes each day) to become familiar with the test format, content, timing, and question types. Doing so will bolster preparation, confidence, and focus going into the exam. Your results on these tests will influence your path so it pays to invest in preparation to ensure you reach your target score – and that you score high enough to earn scholarships too (which really makes the investment worthwhile)! To position yourself to reach your target score, consider the following:
- Practice with an expert test prep coach
- Practice in a test prep course
- Practice with an exam preparation book
- Practice with online resources
The right kind of practice will enable you to achieve your target score and maximize your chances of getting accepted into the colleges of your choice. The number of students who have received test prep from MathSP and, as a result of achieving a high test score, have earned scholarships that helped pay for college is simply staggering! There’s no question: making the investment on the front end will help you save money on the back end!
Now that you’ve planned, prepared, and practiced, it’s time to perform! In order to perform, however, it’s also important to condition your body and mind. Don’t forget to take care of yourself during these busy exam times. After years of practice, Gold-winning U.S. gymnast and Olympic All-Around champion Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas made her hard work count. Gabby is a great example of how planning, preparation, and practice lead to a strong performance. As a member of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team at the 2012 Summer Olympics, she won gold medals in both the individual and team all-around competitions. You too can apply Gabby’s Olympic mindset when exam day arrives! It’s important to condition your body and mind. Don’t forget to put the pieces in place that will lead to your strongest performance possible. Be sure that you do the following:
- Eat Healthy Foods – Eating food that is good for your brain before a strenuous task like an exam can improve your score.
- Be Comfortable – Test time is not the time to make a fashion statement – unless the fashion statement is comfy!
- Exercise More – Studies show that you can increase processing speed and memory by working out. So grab a test buddy and start exercising.
- Plan for Your Test Environment – As much as you can, practice studying in an environment that is similar to where you will take the test to simulate a real testing experience.
- Practice Yoga or Meditation – Learning how to relax your body and mind during the exam can reduce your stress and increase your chances of success.
- Develop Mental Toughness – Prepare mentally every day. Just like Gabby strengthened her body for the Olympic Games, you can strengthen your mental muscles. Complete a mental workout by doing practice problems every day to dramatically improve your focus and ability to consistently achieve. Consistently engaging in opportunities to boost your STEM Fluency will sharpen your mind, improve your grades, and make test day a cinch!
- Make Short Term Sacrifices for Long Term Gains – Gabby moved away from her family to train with her coach and become a world-class gymnast. As much as you can, be committed to studying in an environment that is similar to where you will take the test to simulate a real testing experience.
- Get a Good Coach – Gabby clearly has plenty of raw talent, but the mentorship of her coach Liang Chow also played a major role in her success. You want your Test Prep Coach to have proven expertise and credibility. The MathSP Team is here to be YOUR Liang Chow. We will help you maximize your raw talent, boost your skill set and understanding, and build your confidence.
Ready. Set. Go! photo courtesy of http://gabrielledouglas.com/