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SandersonFanderson

Welp, Help, Exams are Approaching

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So I just felt like I needed to post this here. I'm taking college entrance exams this week! It's kind of scary to think about because the score I get on it could get me a nice scholarship to the college I want to go to. I'm pretty nervous about the test because my practice quizzes could be better. They aren't bad but I need to get them a little higher. Anyways, anything helps. Study tips, test-taking tips (especially math-related, that's the one I need the most help with), and whatever else you can think of. Anyway, thanks for reading this and letting me vent!

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One thing I've always found helpful if I need to cram, say, some formulas into my brain is to write them on my hand or my arm. That way, I can't really ignore it, and they fade throughout the day so I have to rely more and more on memory. Of course, you have to make sure you don't have any tests that day, because it can be hard to explain. :P

My biggest math tip is one you probably know, but was hard for me to get through my skull. Skip over a question if you've spent more than a few minutes on it and you haven't made significant progress. There's no use beating a dead horse, you know? Answer the ones you're confident answering and then go back for the ones you're iffy on.

And my favorite study tip actually comes from Bill Wurtz. Whenever he's asked about how to be productive, he says something along the lines of "if you win the first hour you win the whole day." So put your phone in a drawer, set a goal for the amount of time you want to study, and work straight through. If you can work through that block of time, you've crushed the part of your brain that doesn't want to get started and the one that doesn't want to keep going. Once I'm past that mental wall, I've found I'm way more likely to keep going or come back to whatever it is I'm working on later.

Hope some of that helps!

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You've probably heard this before, but it bears repeating :D. Sleep a minimum of 8 hours the day before, eat a breakfast with some protein, and take a break every 2-3 hours or so when studying to increase productivity. Now I'll actually give some useful advice.

It's kind of obvious, but try to avoid ever making the same mistake twice doing practice problems. If you get something wrong not because of some silly errors, which always turn up occasionally, but because you don't fully understand underlying concepts or didn't know them, look up the information you need to know and do a few problems of the same variety until you're confident. Also, it's good to keep a list of these concepts just as a refresher before the exam. You don't need to write down all the equations necessarily (in the case of math), but simply put down the name of the topic, which will hopefully trigger your memory of the problems.

Also, depending on the type of test you're taking, there are little shortcuts you can take advantage of to shave off a few minutes, which is important if you're not finishing on time or are cutting it to the last second. For example, in the ACT science section, some of the problems provide a lot of information that you don't need to read. If you can recognize these types of problems, you can skip the reading section and just refer to the graphs/diagrams when answering. There are other tricks too, many of which are taught in test prep classes. However, I wouldn't advise taking a preparatory course, though of course it couldn't hurt. I never found them that useful. In my experience, you spend a lot of time practicing exams that you could do on your own time, with little bits of advice sprinkled in, most which can be found online. If you're bad at self-motivating yourself to practice (like I was), it can be helpful, but otherwise a waste of money.

For topic specific advice, I'll focus on the ACT since that's what I took, but some of it should be applicable to other standardized tests.

English: 

I'll be honest, I've got nothing for you here. A lot of the questions can be answered by answering whatever sounds the most correct, unless English isn't your first language. Review all the basic grammar views, but that's all I can think of.

Reading:

Don't skim the reading section. Just don't. It's tempting to get to the questions as quickly as possible, but it's more important to thoroughly understand what the author is talking about. If you realize you just skimmed a few sentences and don't remember what they talked about, go back and read them, then continue. If you have a comprehensive view of the essay, even if you need to refer back to the text you have a general idea where certain parts were talked about and its easier to find information. So, go as fast as you can, while still understanding it.

Science: 

Not too much to say here either. As you probably know, they give you all the information you need. You just need to be good at reading graphs and logicking your way through analyses. 

Math: 

This is true for all the sections, but most important for math. If you spend more than a minute on a problem and you're not making any progress, make a light mark on your answer sheet so you can come back if you have time, and skip it. Sometimes, looking at other problems will remind of you some concept, some of the one's you skipped might click when you come back to them. Next, remember that for the first 20 or so questions, speed is key. The questions are easy enough that almost everyone's going to get them, so your goal is to finish them as quickly as possible to give yourself as much time to do the harder ones coming later. Also, when you come across those problems you really have no clue about, don't agonize over trying to guesstimate the answer. By that, I mean looking for that bit of information in the question that makes you think that answer is probably more right than the others. Spend maybe 15 seconds trying to find some link, then just put down a random answer and move on.

You probably know a lot of this already, but hopefully there's something in here that'll help.

 

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I hope this doesn't in any way stress you out, but just remind yourself to stay calm and level headed. You may not do as good as you hope, but you'll rarely do as bad as you fear. As long as you try your best you can know failure is not a possibility, and thus the test can only be good for you. 

I realize this isn't exactly tips to do better, but hopefully it help reduce your stress.

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Thanks for all the tips!! I go in to take rhe ACT tomorrow. Fortunately I'm pretty good at English (I score around 30-31 on most practice test, the highest possible is a 36) and also we're taking them online this year, so I have the passage on the left side of the screen and the questions on the right. Science is alright, I just need to watch for minor details that might trip me up. I'm reviewing a few concepts tonight before bed, but I'm getting to bed early tonight so I can be refreshed and awake when testing starts. Thanks for the test-taking tips and study tips, I'm hoping for an overall score of 28. Hopefully I do well enough on the stuff I'm good at that it makes up for the stuff I'm not great at, but I'm still reviewing what I struggle with one more time tonight!

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12 minutes ago, SandersonFanderson said:

Thanks for all the tips!! I go in to take rhe ACT tomorrow. Fortunately I'm pretty good at English (I score around 30-31 on most practice test, the highest possible is a 36) and also we're taking them online this year, so I have the passage on the left side of the screen and the questions on the right. Science is alright, I just need to watch for minor details that might trip me up. I'm reviewing a few concepts tonight before bed, but I'm getting to bed early tonight so I can be refreshed and awake when testing starts. Thanks for the test-taking tips and study tips, I'm hoping for an overall score of 28. Hopefully I do well enough on the stuff I'm good at that it makes up for the stuff I'm not great at, but I'm still reviewing what I struggle with one more time tonight!

Let us know how you think you do!

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12 minutes ago, SandersonFanderson said:

Thanks for all the tips!! I go in to take rhe ACT tomorrow. Fortunately I'm pretty good at English (I score around 30-31 on most practice test, the highest possible is a 36) and also we're taking them online this year, so I have the passage on the left side of the screen and the questions on the right. Science is alright, I just need to watch for minor details that might trip me up. I'm reviewing a few concepts tonight before bed, but I'm getting to bed early tonight so I can be refreshed and awake when testing starts. Thanks for the test-taking tips and study tips, I'm hoping for an overall score of 28. Hopefully I do well enough on the stuff I'm good at that it makes up for the stuff I'm not great at, but I'm still reviewing what I struggle with one more time tonight!

Let us know how you think you did!

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6 minutes ago, DoomStick said:

Let us know how you think you did!

Will do! I'll get my actual score in about 4 weeks

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