The worst thing you can do when you start test prep is to try to learn the test while you attempt to finish under the clock. Way too many students try this and create more problems than they solve.
First We Will Become Good, Then We Well Become Fast
Like it says: “First Will Become Good…” Your initial focus needs to be on learning the test and learning how to raise your score. Trying to learn the test under the clock is like trying to change a tire on a rolling car. It can be done, but only with a lot of effort and high margin of error.
The person who finishes first with the most wrong answers doesn’t win!
It is better to answer 35 questions correct and 5 wrong, than 25 correct and 15 wrong.
“…Then We Will Become Fast.”
When your competence is to the point you can get 80% of the questions correct, then start timing yourself. Here’s the way you do it:
Go as far as you can under the clock. Mark how far you got, and continue to answer the rest of the questions after the clock. Grade your test and see how you did.
Don’t try this with the whole test. Do this with individual sections. When you can answer all of the questions under the clock, then take a weekend day and time yourself for the entire test.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
– Albert Einstein
Many students, when they take practice tests, don’t do anything different. If they are doing something wrong and don’t know it, with practice, they are just going to get better at doing it wrong.
However, you can learn from your mistakes… but few have a strategy to do this. They take the practice test, grade it, and go on to the next test, make the same mistakes, grade it, and continue to do the same thing, getting better at the same thing, and wondering why they aren’t making progress.
I had a case where a parent called me to say taking the test multiple times didn’t work. Her son had signed up for my prep program and she complained that he didn’t make any improvement in his scores after taking it three times. I looked at his file and noticed that he did not turn in a single prep assignment and I shared that information with her. She insisted that he did the assignments, but he never turned them in. I asked her how he knew what he needed to work on if I never saw his work. She said, “He learns better on his own.”
There is a simple way to learn from your mistakes on these tests: Reverse Engineer.
It’s simple enough. Grade your test. Take the ones you got wrong, find the correct answer, and figure out how to get that answer.
To take this to the next level, mark the questions you guessed at and do the same.
Sounds obvious enough. Should be common sense.
But common sense is often an uncommon commodity.
In our program, we have a more sophisticated way to do this, but the strategy is simple… maybe too simple.
Do this with your TIR and QAS.
Triple Test Strategy
A study was done a few years ago with two groups of students.
One group was given test A and retook test A two more times; the same test three times.
The second group was given test A, then test B, and then test C, a different test each time.
Both groups were given test D. The group that took the same test three times scored significantly higher than the other group. The researchers concluded that the group taking the same test unconsciously began to recognize patterns in the questions and the patterns clued them to the correct answer.
One of the key elements of improving test scores is to, not only learn from your mistakes (and Reverse Engineer), but to practice enough to see patterns in questions and answers, and let the test help you get the correct answer.
Our test prep program is based on recognizing patterns and using clues to get to the correct answer quickly.