Prior To The Test

Get signed up!

Although it may sound absurd, you need to sign up before the test! Test dates are usually several weeks or months into the future. Consider this lag time between sign-up and test day a good thing. This simply means more study time for you to prepare. Plus, you don’t want to wait and press yourself against a time jam with college applications. College applications should be sent before Christmas break, and they’ll of course want SAT or ACT scores. If you’re waiting to take the test, you’ll also have to put your application on hold. This means you have to (1) plan ahead and (2) don’t procrastinate signing up. Get the paper today and get it in!

The best thing is to go ahead and sign up now, regardless of whether you feel that you’re prepared or not. Take it now, earn a “base score” and then remember that you can take it again. Bottom line: get signed up now!

Set a study routine

Okay, you’re all signed up, yes? Good. Now it’s prep time. The key work here is “routine,” as in study routine, as in a set time and place that you’ll study every day.

Anyone who excels at his or her task has devoted him or herself to the discipline of a routine. Think of an Olympic caliber diver—she practices daily skills and techniques over and over again. Think or a crack military drill team—they drill again and again and yet again. It may not be fun or sexy, but practice or study routines yield positive results. There are no shortcuts around this. Discipline yourself to a study routine.

Study and focus

When the time comes that you’ve set for yourself to study, then study. That means studying without distractions. Turn off the TV, music, cell phone, computer, etc. Many students believe they can study better with something going on in the background, like music. The truth is, this is simply not true.

Student may argue that they’re used to some noise and unaccustomed to silence, so they’ll score better on a test. In this case though, the students are making an error of logic. They’re saying: “I’m used to noise, therefore I’ll score lower on a test if taken in silence.” The correct conclusion would be: “I’m used to noise, therefore I’m less accustomed silence.” Being unaccustomed to something (silence), does not mean necessarily a person will score lower on a test. Silence, however, does mean the student will be able to focus better on that test.

Psychological studies have been done over and again that prove these distractions of music, TV, Internet, and such are just that—distractions. They interfere with a person’s ability to focus on the issue at hand, which is studying. Turn them off; you’ll be okay!

There’s an old saying: “Work hard and play hard.” Look at it this way: you get a good hour or two of studying in, good distraction-free, focused studying (you’ve worked hard), and your reward is to turn all the fun stuff back on when you’re done (time to play hard). You’ll be surprised in that, after studying, it’ll be a real reward to have a little fun. Plus, you’ll feel great about yourself. Try it.

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