To some, this blog post may seem like common sense. But for others, like myself, I need information like this. I figured out how I learn best with practice tests and I’d like to share my methods with others in need. This practice test method could help almost any kind of student!
I recommend taking enough time to go through the following process and make sure to write everything down along the way.
First, do not wait until you feel “ready”. I am guilty of this mistake. I put off taking practice tests because I just didn’t feel “ready”. Truth is, I never felt ready until the day of the final. By the time I felt “ready” it was too late to receive the full benefits of practice tests. At the latest, I will take practice tests up until a few days before a final. By that point, I know most of the material anyway. However, I highly recommend taking practice tests throughout the semester or taking practice tests weeks before your final!
If you’re taking the first couple practice tests for a course, feel free to do the test untimed or with additional time. As you take more practice tests, make sure to decrease or time your tests.
Right after taking the test, reflect on what felt “good” and what felt “bad” BEFORE you grade the test. This will help you recognize whether you’re aware of certain mistakes or weaknesses.
Once you’ve graded your test, write down the weaknesses. Start with topics you completely missed, topics you partially missed, and topics you want more practice with. Then write down what topics you are most confident with, the topics you have a general understanding of, and the topics you are least familiar with. This will help you prioritize the topics you need to focus on the most.
If you are in a time crunch, focus on the topics you know will be the biggest portion of your final.
Warning: not taking the time to truly recognize and reflect on your strengths and weaknesses may lead to inefficient studying, ineffective studying, or feeling lost. Take the time because it will help you a lot.
Use your results and reflections to create supplemental study aids. Find some multiple choice question banks, create flashcards for short topics, handwriting on a whiteboard for longer topics that require more effort to memorize, going back to my outline, creating personal cheat sheets, etc. Once you feel like you’ve mastered (or partially mastered) your weaknesses, take another practice test and repeat this process. Try not to take too many without truly reflecting on your performance.
Repeating and reenacting the final test will help you study while preparing you for the environment of the dreaded final. Repeat it over and over and over.
Good luck on finals everyone!
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