The Key to Boosting Your Score On Any Standardized Test

Posted by Mike Gelinas on 6/26/15 9:30 AM

AliceCastleCome, enter the world of higher scores! 

There is no question that students preparing for science and math exams must develop a strong understanding of the concepts being tested. But feeling comfortable with the material is simply not sufficient for top performance. Here's the secret: in preparation for these exams, be they SAT, GMAT, or MCAT exams, there is no substitute for timed practice. 

How Do I Begin?

You can demystify the timing aspect of an exam by determining how long, on average, it takes to work through each question. For many exams, this falls between 75 and 120 seconds per question. While this may seem unforgiving at first, you can develop the right pacing through consistent practice. Like many aspects of standardized test prep, the time pressure truly rewards the prepared student. 

Time Management is Crucial

Once you have determined the approximate time you’ll have per question, it is important to recognize that some questions will actually take more time, others less. For this reason, I impress upon my students that it is necessary to avoid spending too long on any one question. For example, if most questions will take a student 1.5 minutes to complete, then spending 5 minutes on one stumper could cost you the chance at two easier questions later on. To be successful, you must realize that your best performance will come from learning to guess quickly and move on. This really requires an adjustment to one’s thinking, but is critical to effective time management.

Practice Consistently While On the Clock

The best way to develop an instinct for when to cut the ripcord is to focus on timed practice from the start. With experience and reflection, students will begin to see where they have lost time. They will being to develop an instinct, or a feel for when they should be moving on to the next question. The student who has developed confidence through “on the clock” practice will be unfazed on test day.

For more relevant reading on standardized tests, check out these other blog posts written by our SAT tutors: How to Solve SAT Word ProblemsHow Do I Choose Which Subject Tests to Take?, and A Secret Weapon for Learning VocabIf you're looking for hands-on support, why not give us a call at 617-714-5956 to learn more about our private SAT tutors? We are based in New York, Boston, and can also work with you online. 

Sign up for a free Study Skills Consultation!

Tags: study skills