How to Prepare for an Exam Two Months Away

Giving it a Go By Yourself? Here's Where To Start.

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If you're taking a standardized test like the SAT or GRE (or others) and are planning to prep by yourself, you need months, not weeks or days to prepare for a test like this. Now some people will try to prepare for a test like this by cramming just a few minutes ahead of time, but a good test score is not in their future! In your case, you've given yourself two months, which is a decent amount of time to prepare for an exam like the one you're taking.

Here's the study schedule.

Month 1 Preparation for the SAT

Week 1

  • Make sure you've registered for your exam!
  • Buy a test prep book for your specific test. 
  • Review the do's and don'ts of studying with test prep books. Trust me on this one.
  • Review the test basics: contents, length, price, test dates, registration facts, testing strategies, etc.
  • Get a baseline score. Take one of the full-length practice tests inside the book to see what score you'd get if you took the test today. Make note of that score. 
  • Map out your time with a time management chart to see where test prep can fit in. Rearrange your schedule if necessary to accommodate test prep.

Week 2

  • Begin coursework with your weakest subject (#1) as demonstrated by the baseline score.
  • Learn the components of #1 fully: types of questions asked, amount of time needed, skills required, methods of solving types of questions, knowledge tested. 
  • Answer #1 practice questions, reviewing answers after each one. Determine where you're making mistakes and correct your methods. Keep learning content of this section.
  • Take a practice test on #1 to determine level of improvement from baseline score.
  • Fine tune #1 by going over questions missed to determine what level of knowledge you're missing. Reread information until you know it!

Week 3

  • Move on to next weakest subject (#2). Learn the components of #2 fully: types of questions asked, amount of time needed, skills required, methods of solving types of questions, etc.
  • Answer #2 practice questions, reviewing answers after each one. Determine where you're making mistakes and correct your methods.
  • Take a practice test on #2 to determine level of improvement from baseline
  • Fine tune #2 by going over questions missed to determine what level of knowledge you're missing. Review that material.

Week 4

  • Move on to strongest subject/s (#3). Learn the components of #3 fully (and 4 and 5 if you have more than three sections on the test) (types of questions asked, amount of time needed, skills required, methods of solving types of questions, etc.)
  • Answer practice questions on #3 (4 and 5).
  • Take a practice test on #3 (4 and 5) to determine level of improvement from baseline
  • Fine tune #3 (4 and 5) by going over questions missed to determine what level of knowledge you're missing. Review that material.

Month 2 Preparation for the SAT

Week 1

  • Take a full-length practice test, simulating the testing environment as much as possible with time constraints, desk, limited breaks, etc.
  • Grade your practice test and cross-check every wrong answer with the explanation for your wrong answer. Determine what you've missed and what you need to do to improve. Go over the sections where you missed the most. 

    Week 2

    • Take another full-length practice test, simulating the testing environment again. Again, go through every missed problem, looking for weaknesses. Go back to the book and see if you can improve by yourself. Still need additional help? Find a tutor who can meet with you for a last-minute session. 

    Week 3

    • Go back through weakest section (#1) and work through the problems again, memorizing testing strategies, reviewing practice problems, and whittling down the time it takes you to work through the questions.
    • Review with a tutor if you're still not mastering the content. 

    Week 4

    • Eat brain food.
    • Get plenty of sleep
    • Review test tips to make your test-taking more efficient.
    • Plan some fun evenings to help you relax
    • Two days before the test, read testing strategies for the exam, memorize the testing directions as printed in the book or online. 
    • Pack your testing supplies the night before: an approved calculator if you're allowed to have one, sharpened #2 pencils with a soft eraser, registration ticket, photo ID, watch, snacks or drinks for breaks.
    • Relax. You did it! You studied successfully for your test, and you're ready. So take a deep breath, okay?

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