Preparing for a Test in 3 Months

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If you're preparing to take a standardized test like the SAT or GRE (among others), you need months—not weeks or days—to get ready. Now, some people will try to prepare for a test like this by cramming at the last minute, but those people rarely achieve good test scores! In your case, you've given yourself three months, so you have plenty of time to study for whichever standardized test you're taking. This schedule should help you prepare for a test that is three months away.

Month 1

Week 1

  • Make sure you've registered for your exam!
  • Buy a test prep book
  • Review the test basics: what's on the test, 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.
  • 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

  • Review your test prep options if you think that studying on your own will not be ideal! 
  • Choose and purchase a test prep option (tutoring, a different set of books, online courses, classes, etc.)
  • If you are studying on your own, move this schedule up a week and start going into week 3's material.

Week 3

  • Begin coursework with your weakest subject (Subject A) as demonstrated by the baseline score.
  • Learn the components of Subject A fully: types of questions asked, amount of time needed, skills required, methods of solving types of questions, knowledge tested. Acquire the knowledge necessary for this section by searching on the Internet, going through old textbooks, reading articles, etc.

Week 4

  • Answer Subject A practice questions, reviewing answers after each one. Determine where you're making mistakes and correct your methods. Keep learning content of this section.

Month 2

Week 1

  • Take a practice test on Subject A to determine level of improvement from baseline score.
  • Fine-tune A by going over questions missed to determine what level of knowledge you're missing. Reread information until you know it!

Week 2

  • Move on to next weakest subject (Subject B). Learn the components of B fully: types of questions asked, amount of time needed, skills required, methods of solving types of questions, etc.
  • Answer Subject B practice questions, reviewing answers after each one. Determine where you're making mistakes and correct your methods.

Week 3

  • Take a practice test on B to determine level of improvement from baseline
  • Fine tune B 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 (Subject C). Learn the components of C fully (and D and E 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 Subject C (D and E). These are your strongest subjects, so you'll need less time to focus on them.

Month 3

Week 1

  • Take a practice test on C (D and E) to determine level of improvement from baseline
  • Fine tune C (D and E) by going over questions missed to determine what level of knowledge you're missing. Review that material.

Week 2

  • 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.

Week 3

  • Take another full-length practice test, simulating the testing environment again. Again, go through every missed problem, looking for weaknesses.

Week 4

  • Review questions you have missed and answer practice questions related only to those types of questions. Study apps can help you single out these specific types of questions. 
  • 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
  • The day before the test, read through testing strategies for the exam.
  • 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. Get plenty of sleep the night before, making sure you don't change your routine from your normal routine. 
  • Relax. You studied for your test and you're ready to go!