Study Skills: Summer standardized test preparation

Posted by Sophie Pauze on 7/9/14 8:34 AM


Unless, of course, you're applying to graduate school, in which case, read on.

The summer is a busy time for aspiring graduate students: lots of graduate school admissions cycles open up in the fall, meaning that MCAT tutors, GRE tutors and GMAT tutors are often the busiest this time of year! That means hoards of students are also working hard to ensure a strong performance on test day.

If you’re one of the many students trying to prepare for a standardized test this summer, finding the time and space to study be a challenge, not to mention frustrating.  Locking yourself up to study on a summer weekend, family vacation or sunny afternoon may not be your idea of a good time, and I don’t blame you.

Fortunately, there are ways to make your test prep more palatable during the summer months:

1. Study early in the morning

Now you may not be an early bird, but you can certianly adjust your schedule, and there are great advantages to getting your test prep out of the way early in the day. First of all, your mind is probably sharper in the morning. Presumably, not much has happened yet in your day, so you have nothing to mull over, and you aren’t tired from a day’s activity.

Secondly, you’ll have fewer distractions. Early in the morning, we receive fewer phone calls and emails, not to mention friends asking you to go to the beach! If you wait until the afternoon or evening to study, you run the risk of putting it off until the next day, and the next, and the …. you get the idea.

If you can swing 2 hours of test prep every morning, you’ll be in good shape and thank yourself at bedtime.

2. Choose alternative environments for your prep.

Who want to be in the library ALL day?

On most standardized tests, the content tested varies greatly. Some kinds of content can be studied in less formal environments, while other types necessitate more focus.

For example, in the case of a business school applicant, the GRE is vocabulary heavy, while the GMAT is more focused on grammar. In both cases, you could easily make flashcards and quiz yourself at the beach, or on a train to your summer getaway. 

Any MCAT tutor will tell you that you probably don't want to drill chemistry equations at the beach, but reading the chapter and taking notes is certainly something you can do outdoors! 

Understanding which mundane, or even pleasant, environments can allow you to study effectively might make the process a bit more pleasurable!

3. Find a study buddy. 

Working with a buddy can keep you motivated and on top of your standardized test preparation. When everyone else is hanging out in the sun, having a friend or private tutor to encourage you and share insight can help you invest is your process, and feel less alone doing so.

Also, of you’re working with a friend, a little healthy competition never hurt. Set realistic challenges for each other: perhaps your test prep will start to feel more like a game than a slog. 

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Tags: study skills, summer activities