It’s that time of year again when final exams are here and college and university entrance exams share center stage. It’s hard balancing studying for finals and taking a standardized test. Strong planning and time management skills are key to juggling studying for final exams and acing standardized tests. Strong GPA and SAT®/ACT scores are equally important to have a wider choice of schools and courses available to you in college and universities, as well as greater opportunity for scholarships. The pressure and anxiety that most students feel at this stage can be overwhelming, but with a little planning and organization, you can sail right through this with flying colors.
You can’t cram for this one—the volume of work is just too great to leave preparation to the last minute. That doesn’t mean you need to set impossible study goals. In fact, you need to take the time to rest, exercise and eat really well if you want to be operating at your prime. Getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet will mean that your brain has the fuel it needs to function properly so you get to work smarter, not harder. Make a realistic and achievable study schedule and stick to it.
Create a realistic schedule that leaves you plenty of time to study so you aren’t cramming the night before. If you aren’t sure how much time you need, study one chapter of your text book or one section of your notes and time yourself.
Break large, daunting tasks into small manageable sections; that way you won’t feel overwhelmed or put off doing things. Plan to go over one section or chapter, then schedule a social activity or some exercise.
Break your study sessions into hour-long stretches (shorter for lower grades) and then plan a fun activity, family time or time for chores. Don’t just move from study time to screen time as this will not give your brain a chance to rest and reset. If you cram or study for long stretches at a time, you aren’t working smarter. Get enough rest, do a few fun activities and (most importantly) exercise so that your brain can function optimally.
Work Smarter not Harder
Think of it this way; if you were preparing to play a big game or run a marathon what would you do? You wouldn’t practice flat out the night before because you would be exhausted the next day. You would hydrate, and eat right and take time to get enough sleep and rest.
Well, you brain is just like a well-trained track athlete; you can’t avoid practice all season long and then cram a bunch of practice into the night before a big event and expect to do well. Give your brain the food, rest and time it needs to do its job properly.
Reading whole text books and reams of notes just isn’t necessary; instead create a study group and share the workload. Choose people who will pull their weight and who are dependable. Each person has to teach the most important concepts in their section or chapters to the group and ensure that everyone understands.
Understanding not Rote
Don’t memorize your notes, instead try to understand them. Read a section or chapter, then close your text book and repeat the concepts to yourself or teach a friend, a pet or your house plants. Being able to talk through it will help you to remember.
Work on your writing skills
Some of the tests are multiple choice, but for those portions where you must write, communication is key. No matter how well you know your stuff, if you can’t articulate yourself properly, you won’t get the marks you deserve.
Take the time to construct your essay properly and communicate your ideas clearly so that your ideas get a chance to shine. Write practice essays to perfect your technique (see the links below).
Practice makes perfect
While it’s essential that you are able to communicate your ideas effectively, you also need to read the questions very carefully. SAT® and ACT questions are divatted very differently from what you may be accustomed to. Use the internet to get as many test papers as you can from previous years so that you can familiarize yourself with the way questions are asked. Go through your answers to see where you made mistakes to ensure that you don’t repeat those in the exam. Also, ask your teacher for old exam papers. This gives you a great idea of the kinds of questions to expect and helps you to understand the most important concepts.
Tutor to the rescue!
Make a note of all the important concepts you are struggling with and ask your local Bergen and Passaic County in-home and online tutor to help you to set up a practical study schedule. They can also help you to identify your learning style. When you convert indivation into a medium which suits your learning style, you are able to understand it quicker, remember it longer and make deeper connections between concepts. For example, if you have a visual learning style, you can convert important concepts into mind maps and info-graphics and you can watch videos rather than reading from a textbook.
Most importantly with test preparation is timing and pacing. Your tutor can help you review all the concepts needed and then learn the strategies and tips to increase scores.
Relax, you’ve got this
Your greatest enemy is anxiety, so take the time to sleep, exercise and relax so that you don’t let your nerves get the better of you. Anxiety can actually prevent you from perdiving at your peak, so take a few deep breaths and try to focus on the task at hand.