So what is it going to take to get a great score? The answer, surprisingly, is not what you’d expect.
It all started out where so many students start out – the KAPLAN and The Princeton Review study books. In addition I purchased some additional books with more practice problems thinking that the more problems I do, the better I will be on the test day.
There were many study sessions where I would start with a section, read the material on the types of problems I was approaching, and then do a whole lot of practice problems of that particular type. I probably made it about halfway through the math problems when I decided that it wasn’t working for me. This is not how the test is going to be. There will not be a battery of a single question type anywhere in the test. If two questions in a row are the same type, then there’s probably an issue.
It was time for a new strategy. Back to the practice tests. Because of the books I had purchased, I had quite a few practice tests to pick from and could easily run through a few are review the results. For me, this was the first big lesson:
Take the test like you’re taking the test
It may be different for other people, but for me this was critical. I needed to feel comfortable taking the test. That meant recreating it as much as possible.
1) Use the dry erase ‘paper’ because that is what you’re going to have to deal with – all of the good and bad that comes with it
2) Create the stress of going through all the steps in the test. No matter what the sections are, no matter what order they change them around to, take the practice tests in that order.
3) Use the breaks. I’m sure you want to be done with the test. When practicing you just want to know what you got wrong so you can study. When taking it for real you’ll just want it to be over with and see the results. It doesn’t matter. Take the time because you need it.
4) Try out any of the other things the books suggest. Walk around in between. Stretch. Grab some water. Whatever it is, just try it out and get comfortable with the feeling of stepping away and refocusing for the next section.
The reason this is so important is because these are things you can prepare for. You control the time between the sections. There are not going to be any surprises during this part so use it as an anchor point as you go through the tests and you’ll feel much more in control throughout the test.
And trust me, as I found out soon enough, you’ll need all the anchor points you can get.