Before you prepare to take any test, it is important to understand that the test is not an indication of your intelligence or pathway to success. The only thing a test measures is your ability to take a test.
Right now, the only two tests we discuss here are the ACT and SAT. Standardized tests are the most cost-effective method of assessment in learning environments where accountability is measured with specific metrics and results.
The tests are standardized.
Thus, the methods of test item construction and scoring are optimized to minimize cost and maximize reliability. This also means that the diminishing marginal utility of these assessment products can only be restricted to a very specific time period in life. That scarcity of time (and the resulting barrier to opportunity) has led to the increased value of these test scores
Standardized test scores are metrics that help students, parents and educators set goals.
Test preparation requires discipline, integrity and sacrifice. Students must use time management skills to prioritize test preparation over play time. Integrity requires the student to strive for success based on merit, rather than position or privilege. Further, the tradeoffs must be made in order for serious test preparation to yield good results.
Four P’s of Test Prep Success
The four P’s of success in testing environments are preparation, practice, participation, and persistence.
Preparation involves all the “test recon” that includes the details regarding the content and administration of the standardized test. The process of preparation involves self-regulation, which requires goal setting, mental preparation, and and more control over the physical learning environment.
Practice helps build connections in the brain that promote faster retrieval of declarative knowledge and more proficient production of procedural knowledge. Wide receivers in the NFL practice skill position drills that look strange out of context but give an edge against defenders in game time situations.
Participation sounds obvious, but some students never take the standardized tests after preparation and practice.
Persistence requires both participation and perseverance. Some students take the exam, but stop halfway because they are not confident in their ability to earn a passing score. Some students get a low score on the first attempt and refuse to retake a test. In both cases, there is a lack of persistence, which leads to guaranteed bad outcome.