Test Anxiety

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Go from surviving to thriving during exam prep
There’s no question that preparing for standardized exams can take a toll on our emotional and physical well-being if we are not intentional about our approach. To reach your highest potential on a standardized exam, you must take your wellness schedule as seriously as your exam prep schedule. But what should you focus on? The following 5 pillars ...
How to deal with test anxiety
The LSAT was my first time dealing with real test anxiety. I’ve always been a good test taker; the SAT, ACT, AP tests, and years of in-class assessments all proved pretty painless. But the LSAT’s high stakes and new content, plus having to fit it into a college schedule, really got to me. 
To ACT or to SAT? That is the question. 
“Do colleges like one test more than the other?” “Isn’t the SAT harder?” “What if I’m terrible at science?!” “But all my friends took the ACT!”
Using test day nervousness to your advantage
Aristotle argues that fortitude (or “perseverance”) is not the absence of fear or nervousness. Rather, it is the willingness and ability to complete something daunting even in the presence of tremendous fear. Fear, then, is a necessary and natural part of perseverance.
Achieving the MCAT body of your dreams (part II)
Welcome back! If you missed part I of this post, please check it out here. Now that you've made an MCAT study schedule, adjusted your lifestyle, and figured out the fuel your body needs, you're probably wondering...
The right way to use practice tests for standardized testing
Though standardized tests are often cast as objective measures of innate knowledge, nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, taking standardized tests is a skill that can be taught. Additionally, how well you perform on test day is not just a function of how much you have learned or studied, but also a function of how consistently you ...
How to approach the NBME shelf examinations
The NBME shelf examinations are certainly daunting: 110 complex questions in 165 minutes is a grueling test of your knowledge. But it’s not without significant benefits! These exams can actually be a fun challenge, allowing you to apply concepts you have mastered in novel ways. Here are some tips and tricks I used as a third-year medical student ...
A short guide to using the GRE’s on-screen calculator
The Quantitative Reasoning section of the GRE is unique in that it provides a tool that sections on similar standardized exams lack: an on-screen calculator. Though this distinction may relieve those who feel intimidated by math or by standardized exams in general, it also challenges those trying to determine the best strategy for employing its ...
Practice testing in the 520s? Boost your score into the 100 percentile
As a person who was practice testing in the 520-521 range with 2-3 weeks left of studying, I was content with my score; however, I had an idea that I could get to the 100 percentile range if I pushed myself and studied smart for the remaining few weeks. With some slight tweaks to my study plan, I was able to comfortably score in the 100th ...
Grad school standardized testing: to re-test or not to re-test?
So you got your score back from the standardized test you need to apply to graduate school, and you’re not thrilled. What now?
How to tackle nerves on the ACT
So you’ve decided to take the ACT! As an experience tutor of this test, one common pattern I see in my students is a fear of taking the exam. After all, for many people, this is the first large standardized test they’ve ever encountered. Although it might seem daunting, with some hard work, the test can be manageable. Here are some tips to help ...
Becoming a good test taker
You’ve heard it over and over: “She’s just a good test taker.” The phrase clings to standardized tests, where some students have the luck of Steph Curry sinking 30-foot shots while others feel like Shaquille O’Neill at the foul line. Like shooting a basketball, we often treat test taking as innate and immutable, but any basketball coach will tell ...
Don’t neglect reading comprehension
Focus on weaknesses, but capitalize on strengths The GMAT has no shortage of intimidating problem types. For many test takers, Data Sufficiency and Critical Reasoning alone are enough to induce heart palpitations. Understandably, many students focus on these very intricate, complicated question types - and rightfully so! It is no easy feat to ...
MCAT score plateaus: why they happen, and what to do about them
One of the most common frustrations that I’ve seen students run into during their MCAT studying is the dreaded score plateau. A student’s studying is going well, they are improving on their practice exam scores and feel confident in their content mastery, but then several exams in a row show the same score. It can feel demoralizing, but remember, ...
Mastering the SAT reading section
For many students, the reading section of the SAT is daunting. You’ve read plenty of books over the years, and your vocabulary is pretty good (estimable, adequate, respectable, even laudable!), but the prospect of analyzing four long and two shorter passages over the course of only sixty-five minutes can feel like an impossible task. Luckily, as ...
Test like a champion: game-day tips to keep energy up during the MCAT
Waking up on the day of your exam, hopefully 99% of the work is already done. You’ve studied and all you have to do now is take the test! Treating your test prep like a marathon and planning for every possibility is a way to succeed. Let’s talk about strategies that will help you be ready to rock on “game day.”
How to reset your mind for MCAT success
The MCAT is a well-written test. It is thorough, consistent and serves a valuable purpose, which is to assess how qualified you are to begin a career in medicine. It requires that you: Sort through a large volume of information Endure (the test is eight hours, takes months to study for, and many people have to retake it) Keep calm
What to wear on test day (seriously)
Advice for test day is easily doled out, and often hard to actually follow.
What exactly is a law school outline?
Pretty soon after you’ve arrived at law school, you’ll probably start hearing about “outlines” and “outlining.” Fellow students will ask when you’re going to start outlining for Torts or Contracts. The bar prep representatives will start trying to sell you outlines for your courses. High-quality outlines prepared by students in years past will ...
Dear LSAT taker: if you are hurting, read this
One morning in November 2016, I sat on a 36 Broadway bus heading southbound towards the downtown loop. It was a cold morning in Chicago, sometime around 4:45 a.m. The bus was empty, save the bus driver and me. I was three months into LSAT preparation, a process (for reasons unknown to God and Man) I took on while working a full-time job at a law ...
Three Ways to Build Good Vocab Habits for Standardized Tests
When taking standardized tests, especially the SAT or GRE, people often struggle with memorizing enough words for the (often tricky) vocabulary sections. When it comes to vocabulary, unlike other parts of the test, you either know the word or you don’t. So how can you ensure you improve your vocabulary memory for the test? It’s all about building ...
Mindfulness and the MCAT: 3 steps for avoiding burnout
Pre-Med students are no strangers to stress. From Physics midterms, to O-Chem lab reports, to the inevitable march into finals week, you have plenty of experience juggling assignments and managing that cortical response of your brain saying, Yeah, this is a little too much. Stress itself isn’t the problem. In fact, after a certain point it shows ...
The key to selecting the right answer on the SAT & ACT: part 2
Welcome to part 2 of my post on English strategies for the SAT and ACT! If you didn’t read part 1, you can check it out here. Picture it now: you’re breezing through the ACT English Language Arts or SAT Writing and Language section. Every question come easily to you, as you follow what your ear tells you is right. You didn’t need to learn grammar ...
How should I time myself on the MCAT? 5 essential tips
High on many students’ list of MCAT worries is running out of time. While time-management is an essential skill that you will need to master by exam day, it doesn’t need to be a big source of anxiety. Here are some tips for finishing your MCAT exam with time to spare!
Biology on the MCAT: how to simplify complex problems
Many problems on the MCAT seem quite complex upon first inspection, but can actually be reframed to be more simple. This allows a test-taker to manage their time as well as avoid the errors that come with repeated detailed analysis. To demonstrate this tactic, see the example below.
Advice on MCAT breakdowns, depression, and stress
The MCAT is a brutal test.  Having taken it and tutored numerous MCAT students (as well GMAT and GRE students), I can say with absolute certainty that I seen more students break down over the MCAT than they have with any other test.  Every one of my MCAT students has, at some point, teared up over this test and cursed it to hell.
How to quickly get information you need from an MCAT science passage
A lot of students struggle with the timing aspect of the MCAT: between reading all of the passages and thinking through all of the questions, it’s easy to lose track and start feeling rushed towards the end. If timing is a problem for you, try switching up your technique, particularly for the science passages.
Mentally Conquering the MCAT
 Test anxiety is real! Good thing is it's manageable. For many pre-med students, the MCAT can feel like the final ‘hurdle’ before an application cycle begins. You’ve spent a couple years in college trying to do your best in school, be involved in extracurriculars, and form relationships with professors who will eventually provide recommendation ...
The GRE tutor: how to prep for the GRE at the last minute
In a perfect world, we would all budget our time flawlessly. We’d have advance warning of our own needs, desires, and priorities. All large events would be slated into our calendars well in advance and in time slots when we had the brain-space and free time to give such events the focus they demand.
Six tips for 1L exam success
Anyone who’s ever considered law school has probably heard horror stories about that dreaded rite of passage: the first 1L exams. At many schools – like my alma mater, Harvard Law School – a student’s entire grade for a first-year course rides on the final exam. Years of preparation, months of cases and cold calls, weeks or days of study: they all ...
The GRE Tutor: How Rusty Test-Takers Can Combat Test Anxiety
 Here to provide you with some moral support. You thought you were done with standardized tests, didn’t you? All the bubbling in answers and test anxiety and number 2 pencils and process of eliminations was behind you, a thing of the past, never to rise again. But then, you learn, no. Standardized testing has risen out of your high school past ...
The GMAT tutor: crucial do’s and don’ts for the big day
So you’ve been preparing for months, and finally, your GMAT test day is rapidly approaching around the corner. You may be (understandably) starting to feel some anxiety creeping in. How will you retain all the strategies you've learned? How do you make sure all of that hard work, sweat, and toil translates to your test? As your trusty GMAT tutor, ...
SAT Tutor: why you should wear a bathrobe on test day
What to wear on Test Day? What kind of question is that? What on earth could clothing have to do with taking standardized tests?
Standardized Test Prep: How to Keep Test Day Stress at Bay
Just like home, only the exact opposite in every way.
Study Skills from an Academic Tutor: The Power of the Practice Exam
At this point in the spring, we’re only about one month away from the May AP tests, and as a veteran academic tutor in New York City, this is the time of year when I push all of my students in high school to take full-length practice AP exams.  Regardless of the subject – be it AP World History, AP Biology, or even AP Japanese Language and Culture ...
MCAT Tutoring: Standardized Test Preparation & Test Anxiety
Five steps to beating test anxiety As an MD/PhD candidate, I've taken and prepared for countless standardized tests. I also know that tests are scary for everyone, even the most seasoned test-takers. After all, exams have implications—and big exams have big implications. In that respect, a little anxiety is natural. But too much can be ...
MCAT game plan: Achieving your maximum score
Taking the MCAT is extremely anxiety provoking.   But the preparation leading up to the exam can be grueling and soul-crushing.  These weeks/months are painful, filled with endless reading, questions, and practice exams.  Often, these monotonous routine days can cause students to become discouraged, frustrated, and bored.  Having a game plan ...
How to stay focused during the MCAT
Studying for the MCAT is heartbreaking, laborious, and anxiety-provoking for pretty much all students. Like the exam itself, MCAT preparation is a marathon. As with all standardized test preparation, over the course of studying, it’s easy to become distracted and lose focus. This can directly affect your chances for success on the exam.
Beat the MCAT blues: dealing with depression and anxiety
You've likely never prepared as deeply or intensely for an exam as you will prepare for the MCAT. It's common to feel anxiety, even depression, during the days leading up to the exam. Here, we’ll give you some tips on how to cope and maintain your mental health through this difficult time.
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