5 Ways To Use Practice Tests To Their Highest Potential
1. Always do the practice test under real conditions. Go to a quiet room, time yourself, and complete the whole tests without any breaks. Also, it’s a good idea to do the practice test at the same time as when you will give your SAT – usually that’s around 8 am. This will make sure that you get used to having to think this early on in the day.
2. Practice tests (and any practice questions you do) can let you know what your major and minor weaknesses are. Always analyze your results to find the reason why you got any question wrong (this includes questions you had to guess on). Categorize your weaknesses based on concept or question type. Then review those concepts, starting from the ones you get wrong the most and working your way down. And, of course, make sure to go back and re-do the questions you couldn’t do to make sure that you can do them.
3. Practice tests can let you know whether or not your weakness is time management. The way you do this is to start noticing if you are always rushing near the end of a section. If you feel like you’re rushing the last 5 or so questions, then you have a time management issue. You can also check this by doing a practice test where you time yourself, but don’t stop a section once the time has run out. Keep going and finish the section, but make a note of all the questions that you had to do once the allotted time passed. Then when you score your test, break it up into two scores: one for the questions you finished within the allotted time and one score that includes the questions that you needed extra time for. Then compare the two scores. If you see that there is a difference of 50 or more points, then you definitely have a time management issue. And if there is almost no difference, then your timing is excellent and you should focus more on the concepts.
4. Everyone makes careless mistakes. Practice tests give us a great glimpse at what these mistakes are. Go through each practice test and find the careless mistakes you made. Then write down on a piece of paper what that careless mistake was and make sure to read that piece of paper every day. The whole premise behind careless mistakes is that you simply don’t notice them when you make them. So, being more aware of them should help eliminate them.
5. Take one practice test at the beginning of your prep to see where you stand and what you already know really well. This could tell you where to start your prep. For example, if you got most of the algebra questions right, but a lot of the quadratic questions wrong, then you would start your prep by reviewing quadratics concepts. After this first practice test, you should not take any more practice tests for 2 – 4 weeks, while you are reviewing concepts. Give yourself some time to learn a chunk of concepts and practice them on questions. Then, start doing 1 practice test every weekend. Remember to analyze the results of each practice test you do and target those weaknesses for the following week, before you do the next practice test. That way you will definitely see improvements every week and it will give you a big confidence and motivation boost.