1. Mercurial
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    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

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    Taking Tests

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Mercurial, Oct 9, 2009.

    We can make this thread for all test taking strategies or tips or just to vent about anxieties over... but I'll start with my situation first. ;)

    I have to take the SAT tomorrow. This is my last chance to improve my score before I have to submit it to colleges. I've already taken it twice, and the last time I took the exam, I scored an 1860; I want to improve by about 140 points, which would put me at an even 2000.

    Needless to say, I am extremely nervous. I have been studying, brushing up on my vocabulary and mathematical formulas, and I even reread a few important novels that I might be able to cite in my essay, if the topic is relevent. I've taken a lot of practice tests, and have seen an improvement... but they're just practice tests. *sigh*

    I'm really nervous because I'm sick right now, and additionally, I have a really horrid time focusing. I'm getting tested for ADD and ADHD in a few weeks (I know, I know; it's an overmedicated disorder, but my mind is so filled with thoughts that I am so easily sidetracked, and outside noises during a test are so distracting to me; it's horrible, and I have scored lower because of it).

    Regardless, it's not soon enough to medicate me or to allow me extra time on the exam...

    Does anyone have any tips for me, be it study strategies or tips for focusing?
    I'm super nervous. :eek:
     
  2. Xeno
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    Xeno Mad and Bitey Contributor

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    Hmmm... How appropriate that this is the day I failed my driving test. :rolleyes:

    One thing that I always repeat to myself (and everyone else) like a mantra before any test, whather it be a written exam, drama performance or driving test, is that you know what you've got to do (even if you don't think you do) and all you need to do is calm down, get a grip, and do it. Example: I was extremely nervous before my test today, and I just got worse after strating because the heavens opened immediately. However, the drama performance I had back in May I passed with flying colours, and I don't think I've had a calmer moment than standing backstage waiting to begin.

    Yes, it sounds cliched, but it's never failed me. :)
     
  3. Mercurial
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    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry about your driving test. :( I should have failed mine the first time too --I went over the curb while parallel parking, which should be an automatic fail, but the woman said that it's a dying practice anyway, and it didnt matter. :D Good luck next time.

    I'm going to keep this in mind. I think my problem is that I tend to stress out and come up with the worst possible scenarios. "If you dont improve, KC will never accept you" for example, has been running through my mind all day.
     
  4. Xeno
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    Xeno Mad and Bitey Contributor

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    Did that pulling over. :D

    Yeah, stressing about an exam will do nothing more than clutter up your head.

    Think of it this way, you're trying to think of an important piece of information, but your thought proccess goes like this:

    "The square root of 125 is... YOU MUST PASS THIS EXAM. Is... YOUR LIFE WILL BE DECIDED HERE. Is... DON'T SCREW THIS UP. Is..."

    Fear will fosuc you in a situation where action is needed, but when you need to think it just messes with your head. :)
     
  5. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    Xeno now I'm a little scared! My driver's test is the 23rd! and Merc, my ACT is Dec. 12th.
     
  6. Xeno
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    Xeno Mad and Bitey Contributor

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    Ahem...

    I think that's it, really.
     
  7. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, but in my driving experiences I'd do something dumb and think "come on, if Dan can do this so can I!"

    Now what? hahaha.
     
  8. Xeno
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    Xeno Mad and Bitey Contributor

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    How insulting.

    Well done. :)
     
  9. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hahaha, I totally didn't mean it that way, Dan!
     
  10. Xeno
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    Xeno Mad and Bitey Contributor

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    Sure... ;)

    But yeah, in all fairness, actually driving is pretty easy once you get the hang of the controls and it begins to come natural to you (he says), the hard bit is dealing with everything outside the car i.e. signs, signals, cars...

    Am I correct in assuming that a normal U.S. (not that I'm generalising here) test occurs withing the test centre?
     
  11. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes and no. You have a written test to get a permit to drive on roads with your mom/dad. But your actual license test is taken on the road.
     
  12. Xeno
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    Xeno Mad and Bitey Contributor

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    Yeah, we have a theory test too. (First time, baby. :cool: ) But we get our Provisional simply by applying for it and then we do the tests.

    Ah. I wonder why I thought that? :confused:
     
  13. Agreen
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    Agreen Faceless Man Contributor

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    The most important thing is confidence. I've found if I'm sure I can succeed on a test, I always will. Beyond that, here's the steps I go through to prepare for an exam- I start preparing about a week early which seems like a lot, but it's usually the only studying I do for the term.

    Days 1-3: I cover as much of the material, broadly, as I can. If the course has lectures saved to either video or the internet, I'll have them playing throughout the day when I'm home. I'll go over all of my notes and handouts, and skim through the readings I skipped earlier in the term. At this point, my main goal is to first be able to answer general questions on the main themes of the course, and second to identify areas of priority.

    Day 4: Rewatch the lecture(s) relating to the areas of priority I determined earlier, reread the relevant parts of the text in full.

    Day 5: Study session with friends. This is actually the most important step for me- we can go over sample questions, pick up on missing areas, but more importantly it's a great stress reliever and confidence booster I've found.

    Day 6: Memorise the quotations I want to use on the test, and review my general notes again.

    Then on the day of the exam, I will write out a cheat sheet and take it, read it over until the last second class is called into the exam room then throw it away- by this point, I don't need the cheat sheet but again it's a confidence thing.

    Beyond that, force yourself to relax, take breaks, hang out with friends especially when you hit the points where you feel you just can't retain any more information. I used to hate the exams, but by the time I hit University I loved them, because I knew I could handle them no problem.
     
  14. Mercurial
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    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

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    Mind if I steal this come finals time this December? ;)

    I love planning --I make these elaborate month-long study plans with certain subjects to study each day for thirty days, and then, of course, something interferes with my good intentions and I end up not studying until a few days before. :rolleyes: Maybe a week long method will help.

    Unfortunately, I cant use it for my SAT, which I begin taking in approximately ten hours for approximately five hours. >___< Nevertheless, I'm trying to calm myself down. I feel like I know enough to get a 700 on the Critical reading, at least a 600 on the math, and I nearly got a 700 on the writing last time...
    Gosh, I want this so badly. :)

    I've taken enough practice tests to last me a lifetime.. 2 essay tests, 2 critical reading tests, 1 math test (I couldnt force myself to do a second, haha)...
    At this point, all I think I can do is breathe, get a good night's sleep, review in the morning, and just keep in mind that this will all be over in fifteen hours --forever. Thank God.

    xxx

    Good luck, Emily, on your upcoming ACT. I remember feeling so awful after I took it; I felt like I'd earned a 12... but now I remember that experience almost fondly, since I ended up doing phenomenally well. I think the most important thing about the ACT and SAT is knowing how to take them. I've taken the ACT twice and the SAT (soon to be) thrice. I've done much better on the ACT because they dont penalize you for wrong answers, while the SAT is more tricky. --That, and the ACT is formulaic for math and science, whereas the SAT is created specifically to trick you up. (Those meanies. ;) )
     
  15. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    What did you make?
     
  16. Mercurial
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    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

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    On the ACT? I scored a 29 composite; a 30 superscored.

    I did fairly well in the critical reading and English sections, earning 35s and 36s (max is 36, by the way), but the math and science really crushed me; I earned 25s in those areas. I still walked away feeling proud of myself though. On the new SAT scale, that balances out to roughly a 2050, and Indiana's state average was a 21 or a 22...

    I desperately wanted to break a 30; there's little difference between a 28 and 29, but a major difference between a 29 and a 30. *shrug* I'll settle for the superscore. :)

    In the end, however, it depends on how well you take exams. Only recently did I really begin applying myself in school, but I have always done fairly well on tests, because I understand the influence they can have on admissions. For instance, my friend has a 3.9 cumulative GPA and didnt get into our state school with her SAT score of 1500. I was admitted with my 3.4 GPA and SAT score of nearly 1900. They matter, especially at big state universities. Private schools still take them into account, but they look at your whole character, not just your numbers.

    You'll do fine, I'm sure (unless you're a lousy test taker, in which case I advise you to perhaps enroll in a prep course?), but I advise you study regardless, especially for your weaker zones. You can take the PLAN to prepare for your ACT, or order a prep book or a CD program. Back when I was a sophomore, my dad bought me a software package that has programs specifically designed for the PLAN, ACT, PSAT, and SAT, and they helped quite a bit, not because they taught me anything, but they pointed out what I needed to study and had pretty good review guides.

    Edit: PS: The CollegeBoard web site is strictly for the SAT, I found it beneficial for study tips for the ACT anyway.
     
  17. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have the ACT official study book, and I study every now and then. I really can't wait to take the test. It's the kind of thing where I want to kick the crap out of it, really badly.
     
  18. Agreen
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    Agreen Faceless Man Contributor

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    Yeah, the night before a big exam I'd just think how good it would feel walking out afterwards and that usually helped get rid of any nervousness. .

    Also, 5 hour exam :eek: that's brutal. I never had to take a SAT because I just went to school in province, I didn't realise it was one huge exam, for some reason I thought it was broken up into more manageable chunks. My longest exams were three hours and that was pretty fatiguing in and of itself. You sound ready for the test though which is always good, I hope it goes well.
     
  19. Mercurial
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    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

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    Em, good luck. :) You'll do well, I'm sure. It's not necessarily what I'd call easy (in fact, I found the English, the second time around, to be a little tricky in how the directions were phrased), but then again, I didnt actually study for the ACT. The SAT is more emphasized here in Indy.

    I suppose it's closer to 4.5 hours, but it's still pretty brutal if you've a hard time focusing. Although, for once, maybe good karma, I didnt feel too distracted. The classroom was quiet for the entire duration (normally, most classes arent), and maybe the good breakfast helped. The subjects themselves arent that difficult; they're just over a very large selection of skills. We're given three 5-minute breaks, and the first fifteen minutes are spent going over directions and filling in bubbles...

    I finished about twenty minutes ago. I dont think I improved that much with my math, but I think my critical reading improved --because my vocab has expanded a bit, but also because I think the selections were easier this time around. And I'd be surprised if my writing wasnt near an 800 (800 is max points); my essay was top-notch for a 20-minute rough draft.
    *sigh* There's nothing I can do at this point, except wait. I get my scores back in approximately three weeks. *nailbite*
     

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