Photo by Juan Martin Abreu-Melon

How to recognize your strengths and weaknesses:

After having scored my first practice test on the ACT fear started to kick in. I was at a 21 and I needed to drastically improve my test taking habits in order to get into good schools. I was always a hardworking student but always struggled when it came down to taking standardized tests. I always had major test anxiety growing up and reality started to kick in. You may be a good student and have a complete profile for colleges, but you need to radically change your approach if you want to achieve your dreams.

Despite achieving a low score I first realized that it is not the end of the world. If you really put effort and dedication into practicing on a daily basis you can achieve the goals that you want.

The first thing I recommend you do is look back and recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Go back through the questions you got right and got wrong. Identify the mistakes you are committing throughout each section of the test. Doing this will allow you to see what you are good at and many times you can see common trends with the types of questions you do well and the questions you do not so well. This will allow you to identify what you should focus on.

Practice on a consistent basis:

The best way to improve in any skill in life is with practice. What separates great creatives, students, athletes and leaders is not simply talent but rather practice. You can’t expect radical change to come in a matter of hours but rather consistent daily practice is what leads to improved results.

My strategy was actually quite simple. I would take practice tests every Saturday. I would mimic the exact same test taking environment that would be expected when taking a standardized test. After my exam I would take a break until Sunday and on Sunday I would go back and grade the exam to see what I did well and what I did not so well. I would identify common mistakes and trends throughout the test and then throughout the rest of the week I would spend 1-2 hours every day learning test taking strategies, taking practice questions on the topics I struggled in and continuously practice test taking up until the time of the test.

Practice is what led me to see a gradual but consistent rise in my scores. The willingness to learn from my mistakes and the patience needed to make these changes is what helped me raise my score.

Confidence is key:

Know that you can do it! At the end of the day you are truly your only obstacle. If you are willing to make a change and raise your score, you will be able to do it! Don’t beat yourself down too much, it will only cause more unnecessary stress and fear. Also something I think is very important is don’t compare yourself to anyone else. We all have different strengths and weaknesses and comparing ourselves to others will not help you and your personal journey.

Learn from your strengths and weaknesses, don’t beat yourself down, be confident with yourself and most importantly practice on a daily basis. Know you can do it and trust me it will all be worth it at the end.

How do you practice for standardized tests? Let us know in the comments down below!

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