4 Things You Must Do Before You Study For a Standardized Test

What To Do Before You Study

If you thought you could just breeze into the nearest bookstore, grab a standardized test prep book off the shelves, study a little and be done with it, think again. Serious test prep requires a little planning before you study if you want to get a great score.

Before you study for your upcoming standardized exam, whether it's the GRE or the SAT, take some time to go through these critical standardized test prep tips. You’ll be so glad you did, (so will your mom an everyone else who's rooting for you) and you’ll get yourself a higher score.

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Before You Study, Learn the Test Basics

Analyze the test basics
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Before you study or spend the cash on a book, test prep course, app or tutor, do a little Internet reading about the standardized test you’ll be taking. First, it can help guide you toward the best test prep method for you. If you realize you have absolutely no knowledge about your test, perhaps you'd better go with a class or tutor. If, however you seem to know a lot about the content of the exam, an app might do the trick.

A wealth of knowledge abounds on the web for free about every major standardized test in the world. Here are a few articles to get you started:

SAT | ACT | PSAT | GRE | GMAT | LSAT | MCAT | TOEFL | TOEIC

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Before You Study, Analyze Your Prior Knowledge

Analyze Your Prior Knowledge Before You Study
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Get to know your real level of knowledge before you study. Figure out your strengths and weaknesses on the exam. A good way to do this is by taking brief practice tests online, or by answering practice sample questions of each content area At this stage, you could even purchase a book, and try a few of the questions to see which ones you bomb and which ones you ace.

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Before You Study, Set Goals

Set goals before you study
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What score do you want? You have to know what you’re reaching for before you plunge into any test (or anything in life, for that matter). Is your goal to get a 33 on the ACT? Do you want in the 90th percentile on the GRE? 99th on the LSAT? Do you want to score high enough to get into you’re the top university on your list or do you just want to make it through the test the first time to get a feel for it because you’re taking it again anyway? Your goal will influence your preparation time, so it’s important to understand what you want from the test. My advice? Reach for the stars, because you just might get the moon.

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Before You Study, Budget Your Time and Money

Budget your time and money before you study

Once you’ve discovered where you want the test to take you, you need to draw the map to get there. Budget the following details:

  1. Budget your time: How long can you spend studying for this test? If you’re a really busy person, you’ll have to determine how to insert study time into your day. Set aside a particular time frame for studying (Maybe Monday and Wednesday evenings), and stick to it, just like you would if you had an important meeting, a date, or a class.
  2. Budget your money: May people are on an incredibly tight budget, so allocating a certain amount of cash to test prep and not going over that limit is imperative. Remember that spending more money doesn’t always equal higher scores; do the research to find the best tutor in your price range, or purchase a book which is always a less expensive option. 
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Finally...Study

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Now, you’re ready to study for your multiple choice exam! You’ve figured out the test basics, the knowledge you need to acquire, the score you want to achieve, and have budgeted your time and money to achieve that goal. The next step is following through with your plan, which is always the toughest part. But if scoring high on that test is truly something you desire, then you can do anything you want to really want to do! Best of luck!