The 3 Most Common Test Prep Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

We talk a lot about what students should do when preparing for standardized admission tests. But there are plenty of “don’ts” in test prep, too. In this post, we review some of the most common mistakes students make when studying for admission tests, and give tips for how to avoid them.

1. Focusing all of your time on small details

Major score increases come from your fundamental understanding of broad concepts and themes, not from minor details. If there are one or two details that you’re having trouble with, you can always come back to them later – after you’ve spent the majority of your study time building a strong foundation for each of the test sections.

2. Letting test prep fall to the back burner

Your admission test score will be a key part of your application materials. Some students think they should prioritize clubs, intramural sports, and other extracurricular activities over test prep to show that they’re well-rounded students. But if you let your test prep fall to the bottom of your priorities, the strength of your overall application will take a serious hit.

Cut back on other activities and commitments while you’re studying for your admission test. Politely decline invitations and requests to take on any more obligations in the months leading up to test day. You’ll find that doing so will make it much easier to stay focused on your studies.

3. Using ineffective study materials

Some test prep companies publish books with their own test questions and practice sections. While some of these study materials are high-quality, oftentimes test questions that don’t come directly from the creators of the test do not adequately prepare you for the real test format, structure, or question types.

Find real practice tests released by test administrators, and make sure they represent the core of your prep materials. You can always use questions generated by test-prep companies to supplement your preparation.


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.

Photo attributions:
1 – Photo at top courtesy of Flickr user file404.

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