It’s inevitable: you have a huge test coming up, whether it’s the SATs, HSPTs, or even an English test, and you cannot stop thinking about it. You want to be prepared in the best way possible, but you’re not sure how. These are a few tips I’m hoping will make the whole experience less stressful and help you ace that test.
First up, general studying tips. I use all of these and each one boosts my motivation and efficiency of studying.
Crucial to making your studying more enjoyable is finding out what kind of learner you are. There are hundreds of quick tests on the Internet to help you figure out whether you are a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner, like this test. They usually only take a minute and taking that test can change all your study habits for the better. If you are an auditory learner and you have to memorize something, make up a catchy song or rhyme. If you are a visual learner, draw pictures or make flashcards that will help you remember what concepts mean. Some tests give you suggestions on different ways to study based on your score.
Make a schedule.
Writing down a rigid schedule can ensure you accomplish everything on your list and make studying entertaining. There’s nothing more satisfying than checking things off a list. Whether you write it in a journal or on your Notes app, organizing your studying and giving yourself plenty of break time definitely makes a difference. Also, giving yourself adequate break time as “reward” can make you want to study more. Here’s an example of a studying schedule after school:
3:00-3:30 Unwind, eat a snack, watch your favorite Netflix show
3:30-4:00 Work on homework
4:00-4:10 Take a break
4:10-4:40 Finish written homework and begin studying
4:40-4:50 Take a break
4:50-5:20 Study 1-2 things
5:20-5:30 Take a break
5:30-6:00 Study 1-2 different things
6:10-6:40 Finish up studying
This gives you two and a half solid hours of studying and over an hour of break time, all before 7 p.m. Having a balance and not trying to cram everything at two in the morning can really make a difference on the amount of stress you feel.
Create your perfect study space.
Distractions can be a nightmare if you like working in a quiet area. Whether it’s your dog barking or being tempted to go on your phone, you won’t be getting much done. Take all distractions out of the room or move your studying location to a different area. If you like listening to music, I highly suggest “lofi beats” on YouTube. They help me to focus, and there is a constant livestream I use almost every night while I do my homework that you can find here.
Next up are study tips specifically for the SATs, which you can find even more information about on other websites like Khan Academy.
Personalize your study path
Figuring out which sections of the test you most need to work on can help immensely. Taking a test like the PSAT or the NMSQT can show you which areas to focus on the most when studying.
Time your tests!
I cannot stress this enough. Find how much time you will have for a section of the test and time yourself, remembering to periodically check how much time you have left. This can help you get acquainted with exactly how much time you have to answer each question. I took many timed practice tests for the HSPT and they helped me immensely. I was prepared timewise and had plenty of time to answer every question on the test.
Finally, you can’t forget about general preparation for the big day.
The night before
Rushing in the morning, forgetting things, and being late to your test is not the way to go. Being prepared to pick up your backpack and walk out the door is so important for your worry-free mindset on test day. The three B’s to remember are: beauty sleep, breakfast, and be prepared. I know you don’t want to, but taking a break from studying the night before the test and going to bed early can be so helpful for your mindset. Of course, a hearty breakfast is always important because you must fuel your body and your mind. Finally, be overly prepared to leave so you’re not late. Sometimes, I pack my bag the night before with everything I’ll need — pencils, snacks, water, etc. — and set it at the door with my shoes so that I don’t even have to think about all that in the morning. Basically, less morning stress = better test scores!
Wear a watch!
I used this tip during my HSPT, and it took off so much stress. Instead of only getting updates on how much time I had at the halfway mark, I could check the time whenever I needed it. It kept me in check when seeing where I was with answering questions.
All things considered, studying and preparing for a test like the SAT can seem quite daunting. However, with the right tools, you can ace that test stress-free. Some tips you may have learned are to see what kind of learner you are, make a schedule, give yourself breaks, remove distractions, personalize your study path, time your practice tests, use the three B’s the night before, and wear a watch. I hope some of these helped you, and I wish you good luck on your tests!