Organized Charm: Standardized Test Study Plan

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Standardized Test Study Plan



ACT… GRE… PRAXIS… SAT...

No matter which one you’re taking, or how seasoned you are at doing it, there is just always something so nerve-racking about taking a standardized test. Maybe it’s the fact that they determine whether or not we can get into something. Maybe it’s the fact that you feel like you’re being watched as closely as a prisoner when you’re taking one. Or maybe it’s the fact that they’re just so dang expensive. 

Because my life is awesome, I actually have 3 certification exams coming up within the next few months… each one with its own study guide and (ridiculously expensive) bill.  Naturally, I’ve been obsessing curious about how much time to devote to studying for these exams. Like, are they more important, less important, or equally as important as my actual coursework this semester?

Maybe you’re curious about this, too?

I did a little casual browsing online (just kidding; it was panic-induced Googling), and most websites suggested that spending about 3 hours a week is sufficient. Which makes sense when you think about it, because we aren’t really LEARNING the material for these tests (hopefully). It’s just a review of things that we’ve already learned.

The main purpose of studying for these tests is to prepare yourself for the format and timing of the test!

 Here is a little timeline to help you kick its butt!  

9 Weeks Ahead: 
Order the study guide online or pick it up at the bookstore. Barnes & Noble has an entire section dedicated to study guides of all kinds! Also, Amazon.com never disappoints!

(this is one time you definitely want to buy the book new so that it includes all cd’s and practice tests!)

8 Weeks Ahead: 
Create a study checklist and timeline (kind of like the one you’re reading right now). Schedule time into your day/week for preparing for the test. Plan to treat your study time just like you would a real class… put it in your calendar (a beginning and ending time), put your phone on silent, and WORK!

Here are some time breakdown examples:
25 minutes a day, 7 days a week
30 minutes a day, 6 days a week
36 minutes a day, 5 days a week
45 minutes a day, 4 days a week
1 hour a day, 3 days a week

7 Weeks Ahead: 
Flip through your study guide. Get familiar with the sections and the format of the questions. Go ahead and take your 1st Practice Test (yes, without studying).

6 Weeks Ahead: 
Check out how you did on your practice test. This will be the way you determine what you need to work on and what you are already awesome at doing! Highlight the problems that you missed and review those chapters in the book.

5 Weeks Ahead: 
Read the rest of the chapters in the book, skim over the material that you are 100% sure you know, and spend more time on your areas of weakness. Highlight the key terms and take notes right in the book (there’s no point in trying to sell these things back, anyway). That way, when you review, all of your information will be right there together… which is super efficient!  

4 Weeks Ahead: 
Put information that you still need to work on onto index cards and review it frequently. Review any relevant textbooks or class notes that you may have. Read through the chapters that cover your areas of weakness again (and again…). 

3 Weeks Ahead: 
Review your index cards. As you realize that you’ve learned the information on them, take them out. Create one big outline with the information that is left to learn.

2 Weeks Ahead: 
Quiz yourself using your study sheet. As you realize that you’ve learned the information on that, highlight it so that you can skip over what you already know. Hopefully, the whole thing will be highlighted by the end of the week!

1 Week Ahead: 
Take the 2nd Practice Test in conditions as close to the actual test as possible (at a desk, quiet, timed). Review the items that were missed this time. Put them on new notecards and review them like crazy until 2 days before the test!




The Day Before: 
Give your brain a break! At this point, you’ve either got it or you don’t. Eat a healthy dinner and get a good night’s sleep! 

And on that test day, you march into that building with confidence because you worked hard and you know you’re completely awesome! :) 

What test are you preparing for? 
Do you have any advice to add to this timeline?
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