It is no secret that to get the highest marks on standardized tests, you need to study and revise relentlessly.
So, what do the high achievers regularly do to reach this?
To figure it out, we conducted a little research which included a thorough scrutiny of the mysterious, “top-classified” techniques that the lucky 10% of the test-scorers apply, when they prepare for GMAT, ACT, SAT and other exams.
And now we’re ready to share the strategies, which will allow you to be fully prepared for the “doomsday” – the code name for the moment when the test must be faced bravely.
So what pays off?
- In the 70s Eric Carmen had a hit song “All by Myself” (listeners sometimes confuse its title for “Obama’s Elf”). The central message of the song is clear: you must concentrate on your studies in solitude.Hands down it’s nice to spend some time with your pals for amusement purposes now and then. But according to a research made by the University of Florida, solo studying beats group studying: you have your own pace, schedule and no buddies to distract you. So lock yourself up and step it up!
- Time is the key. Our research showed that successful test-takers start their preparations in advance thus having enough time to cover all aspects of any discipline. A month or so will do fine.
- Money can’t buy you happiness. Also, it fails to buy you the knowledge necessary to be excellent at tests. The majority of our interviewees admitted that they threw in a couple of hundreds of bucks maximum.
- Besides, many of them confessed they didn’t even expect to get such stunning results. Luckily, cash doesn’t rule everything around you.
- Don’t be a crazed pointdexter – as the survey shows slightly more than 70% of the successful test-takers had leisure day before the examination. Rest before test. Put down the book for once.
- Noise is one of the greatest distractions in the world. Especially if it’s background music, so don’t even think of putting your favorite old-school vinyl LP while digging through the books –enjoy the silence instead. Yes another song reference.
- Perhaps you didn’t know that but muscular activity directly correlates with your brain activity. And nothing propels your cognitive abilities better than a good old work-out. Go to the nearest gym pump some iron. Professional poker players have their own meme about rookies being lucky. You have a chance to win the high score at first try. At least almost 70% of our respondents did so.
What else we've discovered
Investing too much won’t provide you with fulfillment. According to our inquiry, the avid money-spenders among preppies ($500 and more) were dissatisfied with the final results. Meanwhile, their thrifty counterparts had no similar complaints.
In fact, big expenditure is a cause of unavoidable stress. Those who spent from 500 dollars to one grand were literally “trembling with fear” on the test day. And it’s no wonder: your consciousness will be occupied by the money you spent, thus not giving you a chance to focus on the test questions.
If you study for half a year non-stop, be ready for your brains to lose some of their sharpness. About 8% of the interviewees, who studied that long uninterruptedly, said their performance was poorer than they thought it would be. And almost 20% of those who studied day and night for around 6-9 months noticed the same thing. Do not make your study marathon overextended.
A piece of advice from the “test champs”:
Have a schedule
As soon as you know how much time you have before the big day – formulate an itinerary and get yourself to work.
Our interviewees revealed a great stratagem: nothing helps you absorb necessary study information better than a well-planned schedule for daily work. Students, who approached their time-management carefully, knew what and when they’d study, which saved them a lot of trouble. It is strongly recommended that you allocate your preparations throughout a 5/6-month period. If you study more, you’ll overwork your mind, study less – you’ll lack some of the crucial knowledge.
Plus “a lot” doesn’t necessarily mean “good” – 4 hours of brain training a day will suffice.
Learn from your mistakes
A large group of the interviewees separately from each other, agreed on one thing: your mistakes are your best allies. It’s okay if you answered one of the questions wrong while testing yourself. Instead of self-reproaching try to keep a “crash-log” of all the mistakes you made. Analyze them and you’ll be amazed how fast your progress is. Just be careful and remember: haste makes waste.
Organize your studies around your “weaknesses”
Figure out which questions are the biggest hardship to you. Then keep on working on them ceaselessly, round-the-clock, until you are sure you left no stone unturned on the problematic topic. And if you find out that some of those questions are woven into the very fabric of your dreams now – keep calm. It’s natural.
Don’t forget about the time limits
If you’re 100% sure that you know all the correct answers - marvelous then!
But if it takes an eternity for you to pick one of them – it’s no good. Don’t panic though. What you really need to do is to develop the inner sense of timing. In the first phases of your study period you may work on your tests slowly, so your memory could grasp and store all the information you need. But as the time passes, make yourself stick to the time limits so the real examination, ultimately, would be a child’s play to you.
Now you know all the ins and outs of the successful exam preparations. Let’s revise one more time: solo studying, careful time-management, self-reliance instead of money-reliance, keeping your weak spots in check and no overwork.
Stick to these simple rules and you will be amazed how smoothly all of the examinations will go.
Best of luck to you, top gun!