Common Reasons Smart Students Get Low Test Scores

Common Reasons Smart Students Get Low Test Scores

Catherine on May 23, 2016

Some students get terrific grades and are star performers in the classroom. But when it comes to admission tests, they take a serious fall. What are some of the most common reasons that students with shiny academic records end up getting low test scores on their entrance exams?

1. All talk, but no walk

Students who are naturally academically gifted don’t always need to study for their grades. They might think they’re gearing up for test day because they’ve signed up for test prep courses and bought all kinds of prep books, but what’s missing from all their efforts is the actual studying. Signing up for a class won’t get you a high score. Buying prep books won’t get you a high score. Putting pen to paper, taking practice tests, and working on practice sections – these are the things that will get you a high score.

2. Unrealistic goal setting

Students who are used to earning great grades often think they’re prime candidates for perfect scores – and that they should be able to easily reach the pinnacle of test day success. Not everyone who does well in the classroom does as well on standardized tests. Take a practice test to identify your baseline score and then set goals accordingly.

3. Lack of study time

Let’s face it. Test prep takes a lot of time and effort, and there are really no shortcuts you can take for this one. If you don’t put in the hours, you won’t see results. Smart students often think that they don’t need to study as much as other students might, but a lack of study time will always come back to bite in the form of low test scores later on.

4. Overconfidence

Test writers often throw in some “trick questions” to throw students off. Smart students who are overconfident in their abilities often don’t think critically enough about test questions, and thus fall into the test writers’ traps. Always make sure you’ve fully read through the questions to understand any nuances the test writer is trying to convey.

5. Unwillingness to recognize and learn from mistakes

Star students often get a lot of praise for “being right” in the classroom, but thinking you’re always right is a bad idea when it comes to test prep. You won’t get as much out of review if you’re constantly arguing with the test writer why your incorrect answer should actually be correct. Don’t try to justify every one of your answers. Learn from your mistakes, and your score will benefit.

6. Pacing issues

Smart students are used to turning in quizzes and assignments first, before time is up. But those that speed through admission tests find that their performance takes a hit. These kinds of tests are designed to challenge you. If it doesn’t take you the full amount of time to answer questions, you should use that time to review and check your answers.


About the Author:

Catherine Blogger PhotoCatherine supports Magoosh’s future grad school students by unlocking tricks of the test prep and application trade. Catherine spends her free time checking out local farmer’s markets, reading food and lifestyle blogs, and watching Bravo. She is forever in search of the best Mexican and Italian food in any given city.


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