creating a study plan for standardized tests

Posted : November 26, 2014
Last Updated : November 26, 2014
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creating a study plan for standardized tests

Preparing to take standardized tests, from the SAT to the GRE, requires an organized study plan in order to achieve desired score results. To avoid cramming, you should begin preparing for your scheduled test at least 8 weeks before the actual test date. Use this suggested study guide to help you plan your own study schedule specific to your needs.

8 weeks from test day

  • Confirm your test registration. Schedule the date, time, and location on your calendar.
  • Order a test prep booklet/study guide online or pick one up in a bookstore. Be sure to purchase the guide brand new to ensure that it comes with all CDs and practice tests. Depending on which standardized test you are prepping for, you may be able to find free study guides and practice tests online.
  • Schedule days and times on your calendar for when you plan to prepare for the test over the next 7 weeks. If study sessions are scheduled, you will be more likely to follow through with them. Keep in mind that these study sessions should (hopefully) just be a review of what you have already learned during your years of school and study. Scheduling 3 to 5 hours of study time per week should be sufficient.
  • Complete an online search for a list of popular vocabulary words to learn for your specific test.

7 weeks from test day

  • Scan through your study guide to familiarize yourself with the sections and the format of the questions.
  • Take your first practice test (without studying) to determine which areas you need to focus on the most.
  • Based on your practice test scores, pick out your weakest areas, as these will be the bulk of focus for most of your study sessions.
  • Plan to study your absolute weakest area next week.

6 weeks from test day

  • Start each study session with a review of your vocabulary words. Try to learn at least five or ten new vocabulary words per study session.
  • Begin studying your absolute weakest area. Use your test study guide and relevant classroom notes or textbooks.
  • Learn the components of your weakest area: types of questions asked, skills and methods required for problem solving, etc.
  • Put information that you are having trouble with on index cards and review those cards frequently.
  • Complete another individual practice test for this subject area close to the end of the week.
  • Review any questions that you missed. Determine where you are making mistakes and correct your methods. Reread and study information until you know it.

5 weeks from test day

  • Remember to start each study session with a review of your vocabulary words.
  • Move on to study your next weakest areas, using your test study guide and relevant classroom notes and textbooks.
  • Put information that you are having trouble with on index cards and review those cards frequently.
  • Complete practice tests for these subject areas close to the end of the week.
  • Review any questions that you missed. Determine where you are making mistakes and correct your methods. Review until you know the info!
  • Consider signing up for test tutoring to receive help with any continuing trouble spots. Even one or two tutoring sessions can help open up creative solutions on your trouble sections.

4 weeks from test day

  • Begin each study session reviewing and learning vocabulary words.
  • Move on to reviewing your strongest areas, using your test study guide and relevant classroom notes and textbooks.
  • Make flash cards or index cards if needed.
  • Complete practice tests for these subject areas close to the end of the week.
  • Review any questions that you missed.

3 weeks from test day

  • Complete another full-length practice test, simulating the testing environment as much as possible with time constraints, desk, limited breaks, etc.
  • Review all the questions that you answered incorrectly on the practice test. Thoroughly reread all the sections in your study guide in which you are still having problems.
  • Make new index cards for your trouble areas and review, review, review!

2 weeks from test day

  • Go back through your weakest sections and work through all the individual practice questions again.
  • Continue to review your index cards frequently.
  • Grab a friend to quiz you on vocabulary words.
  • Complete another full-length practice test, simulating the testing environment as much as possible with time constraints, desk, limited breaks, etc. Review missed questions.

1 week from test day

  • Review all of your index cards and vocabulary words.
  • Go over your weakest areas again using your study guide.
  • Review the basic principles of each section.

Day before the test

  • Go over any test tips/strategies mentioned in your study guide.
  • Review if necessary, but at this point, you either know the information or you don't. Try to give your brain a break and relax!
  • Pack your testing supplies: approved calculator (if allowed), sharpened #2 pencils, registration ticket, photo ID, watch, etc.
  • Get plenty of sleep.

The more time you give yourself to review and study, the more successful you will be on your standardized exams. For more information about standardized tests, please review articles in the test taking section of this website.


 

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