Studying: You’re Not Doing It Right

screen shot 2013-10-22 at 12.39.24 pmMany students know how to slide by a test in the classroom when the teacher gives a comprehensive study guide before each test letting you know exactly what to expect.  Then there’s always the opportunity of a take home test which is never easy, however it’s an open-book test so why study when the answers are right there?  High School can seem like a breeze, but these tests aren’t helping you prepare for the SAT / ACT or what it’s like to study in college.

We suggest studying for the SAT or ACT for a minimum of two months prior to taking the test.  Give yourself ample time to take practice tests and learn your strengths and weaknesses.
Whether you are a student taking an SAT or ACT Course with SAT Preparation Group or a student who has opted to study on their own, we’re going to go over some basic study tips and encourage students to take them all seriously no matter how simple they may seem.

Study Tip #1: Never ever cram for a test

There are many studies that prove how pulling all-nighters or even just studying late the night before a test will result in poor mental, emotional, and even physical functioning for up to two days after your self-induced sleep deprivation.  Don’t believe me?  Think about Mondays.  Part of what makes Monday such a hard day to wake up for isn’t just the regret of starting a new week.  Monday is the result of sleeping differently throughout the weekend.  Your regret of Monday starts with the almost impossible task of waking up on time.  Now, whether or not your test is on a Monday doesn’t matter.  Test days are usually days that students are already nervous about even if they’ve prepared and studied smart for the test.  So get good sleep before any test.  Each of our SAT Coaches here at SAT Prep Group encourage students to start a sleep routine that is relaxing to help them throughout studying for the SAT or ACT.  This routine is priceless when it comes to the night before the test.

Study Tip #2: Use effective study tools

Are you a visual learner?  Do you learn by routine?  Get to know what works best for you when studying.  Make flashcards of vocabulary words you find difficult to understand.  Realize it is not only important to know vocabulary words for the multiple choice questions on the SAT, but also a  requirement to use if you’re aiming for a perfect SAT Essay.  SAT Prep Group provides an SAT Practice Test as well as an ACT Practice Test complete with full evaluation of strengths and weaknesses.  We encourage students to study with a real, bubble sheet test to simulate the SAT or ACT environment.  This helps overcome test anxiety.  We also encourage students to use the ACT website or College Board for studying online.  Although this is not always as effective as a practice test because hints to answers are displayed and Google is an answer savvy temptation.  SAT Prep Group also provides recommended SAT study guides as well as their own Ultimate Guide to Crushing the SAT in 3 Easy Steps.  We encourage students to utilize all of these tools together when studying for the SAT or ACT.

Study Tip #3: Mix it up

Students easily get into a routine of studying the same things in the same order.  Perhaps a student will go through vocabulary flashcards first before picking up a prep test and going through each question one at a time.  If you study routinely you’ll start to remember that you have a problem with question 13 and that the answer is D without truly reading the question or knowing the answer.  You’ve just practiced it so many times that you know it’s wrong and what the right answer should be.  Help internalize how to find the answer and why the answer is right by skipping around.  Write down a key for yourself stating you’re answering questions 9, 33, 11, 3, 12, 1… and so on.  This will allow you to look up the answers once you have finished your practice test.  Mix up those flashcards every time you go through them – try flipping the cards to the definition side and knowing the vocabulary word based on the definition rather than remembering the definition when seeing the word.  Do whatever you can to switch it up and trick your brain into truly studying!

Study Tip #4: Turn it off

As I talk to students every day over our Twitter (@SATPrepGroup) account, I see more and more students tweeting while studying for the SAT / ACT.  Don’t let yourself be distracted.  Let the idea of having to retake the SAT / ACT multiple times to get the score you need be motivation enough to do your very best from the start.  Turn off your cell phone, turn off any music, and take advantage of having an excuse to make your parents and siblings be quiet while you study!  Study in a way that simulates the test environment.  Not only will this rid you of distraction, it will help you feel more comfortable when sitting in that quiet room, taking a near four hour test without being able to talk to your friends.

Study Tip #5: Sleep on it

Although we all wish we could learn via osmosis, I don’t mean literally sleeping on your textbooks!  Instead, we want you to study prior to bed.  Don’t study in your room!  Your brain will be tired thinking it’s time for bed when your bed is right there next to you.  Study in an established, quiet study area.  After studying memory function, the Academic Skills Center at Dartmouth College recommended that students should review difficult material prior to bedtime.  If a student can mentally engage before going to bed or feeling sleepy, the challenging information will remain in your memory through a good night’s rest making the information seem easier.  This is because as we sleep, our brain function consolidates facts to memory helping to make our new memories more accessible the following morning.

Do you have any additional tips to add about studying?  Let us know in the blog comments!

file-1510552563SAT Preparation Group advises in test prep, college planning, and success strategies for teens. Call Us Today at 877-672-8773 or click here for a free consultation.

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