How to Take a Practice Test

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As our students make their way through their tutoring programs, they will begin taking more weekend practice tests. These simulations are meant to evaluate the student’s mastery of the content and strategies they have been learning. The tests are also an opportunity to prepare the student for many the intangibles of testing. Variability in testing environment, proctors, and other students can mitigate some of the hard work our students have put into the process. As some of these things occasionally occur on even our practice tests, we hope to help our students take advantage of the opportunity practice affords. 

In general, we want to make the testing experience as accurate as possible, so that we will build a familiar routine by the time test day actually arrives. Here are some tips for making the most of the weekend testing offered at PrepMatters. Please note that true success actually begins before your student comes to the office:

Fill the tank

A lack of sleep is detrimental to optimum performance. A late night can still have effects beyond just the next day. Therefore, we recommend getting a full night’s sleep for at least both of the two days immediately preceding the practice test. Ideally, the entire week leading up to the test, can be a return to healthy sleep patterns. 

Warming up

Although we don’t encourage cramming, it can be helpful to review the tutor’s notes the night before the test. Additionally, the student can review actual sections from homework or prior practice tests to remind him/herself of how not to get tripped up this time. On the morning of the test, read, don’t do, just a few completed problems from each section to further prime your decision making.

Dress rehearsal

Students should bring the items they will bring on the test and little more. The night before, ask mom or dad to help pack your snack and confirm the transportation plan. Dress in layers and leave the watch at home, as you will on test day. You may need to bring your phone to signal when you’re done, but be prepared to turn it off and leave it off once testing begins.

“Wax on, wax off”

Students should do their best to follow the methods and strategies they have mapped out and practiced with their tutor. If you have questions about amending the methods, or don’t understand what your tutor is suggesting, it is best to discuss it beforehand but to do your best to follow the plan during the actual test. By following the same plan, you and your tutor will get the most helpful feedback about the test results.

Nothing to see here

It is also helpful for your tutor and for PrepMatters in general for you to report oddities to your parent or tutor after the test. Was someone talking during the test? Was there noise in the hall?  Was it too cold or too hot? Was anyone sick enough to distract you during the test? Were you ill? Did you have trouble applying the strategies or finishing? Was your buddy from school making jokes or funny faces and disrupting your train of thought? You don’t have to get anyone into trouble, but these details can help paint a more complete picture to understand any fluctuations in test scores. Additionally, they prepare you for real world possibilities that may come up on your actual test. Talk to your tutor or your parents to map out a game plan for staying positive and focused throughout the test.

Be a good neighbor
Although it may not be your favorite way to spend a weekend day, please don’t take it out on the other test takers. Please put yourself in your classmate’s shoes and avoid being a distraction. This includes not talking after testing begins, only eating on official breaks, and keeping your cell off if at all possible for the duration of the test. It is only a practice, but these behaviors happen on test day, they can catch the scornful eye of your actual proctor and jeopardize your official test. Students can be asked to leave for not following directions or being disruptive among other reasons.

Post Game

After you get the results and discuss them with your tutor, be sure you understand what you want to repeat or what you want to change for your next exam. Discuss what went well as well as what could have gone better. Is there anything to change about your homework or review habits to better prepare you? What was helpful that you’ll want to remember?

By being a little more mindful of all of the aspects of practice testing, we increase our chances of maximizing our performance on each test day.