Important tests come up all throughout our lives. We have to take a test to go to Kindergarten. We have to take tests administered by our state to track our growth in elementary school. We take tests to get into college (and to stay in college). We even have to take tests before we can legally drive a car. Testing is a big part of life.
Those of us who have taken many of these tests (in other words, the oldies) know the power of taking practice tests beforehand. Practice tests do so much for our official testing day. They can eliminate stress because we feel more prepared. They give us a baseline for upward growth. They will even tell us our strengths and our weaknesses. But that’s not all the practice test does for us.
If you’ve ever seen a spy movie, you know just how critical intelligence is for a mission. And I don’t mean intelligence like brain power. Although that is helpful as well. I’m talking about intel, as in information. Taking practice tests is the student’s version of secret intel. When we take a practice test, we discover many, if not all of the nuances to the test. We learn how much time you get for each section, what the questions will look like, and what to watch out for.
This intel is then used to hone in our studying so we can focus on more crucial parts of the exam. For example, if during a practice test for the ACT you discover that you are performing low on the math section, you now have the intelligence to focus your studying efforts on mathematical strategies. The same goes for other content areas of the exam. If you know all of the road signs and the laws of the road, but can’t actually drive a car, your efforts should be spent behind the wheel.
Practice Makes Pretty Good
Most people would say practice makes perfect, but I like to say you should never let perfect get in the way of pretty good. So in this case, practice makes pretty good. Striving for a perfect score on a test is like hoping your favorite shirt will fit you perfectly for the rest of your life. It’s just not realistic. However, practicing a test before you take it can significantly upgrade your scores. For instance, here at Huntington, students who participate in our exam prep programs can expect an average raise in their ACT score by 6 points and an average increase on their SAT of 200 points or more.
Taking practice tests also provides you with a priceless skill – test taking. Not all people have this, but those who do can pass tests in their sleep. That is because taking a test is an actual skill. And like all skills, it can be built and developed. Build your test taking knowledge by taking practice tests. This way, you learn about time management, elimination, choosing the best answer out of a bunch of good answers, and so much more. Practice tests prepare your brain for the real thing. And if your brain is prepared, so are you. Like good study habits, good testing habits will follow you all your life and help create a more positive outlook on learning and achieving.