Hi students: Wow, big question! You are thinking, I have had some problems before with some tests and I am not feeling so good about that. What can I do differently to get that turned around?
I was in a teacher training program in California. The requirement for the program was to take an initial general test for teaching and then three separate tests. One test was for math and science and I knew those were not my strongest subjects. I studied for five weeks before taking this four hour test. Now you say, that seems a little excessive! Maybe, but I passed it the first time. There was a woman in my group that flunked the same test three times. What am I saying? Give yourself enough lead time to study and be prepared for that test. Also, 'enough time' is not one week or three days before. How many weeks? Well, have you taken the test before and if so, how well did you do? Also, is this specific test your strong skill or weak skill? I have had Toefl students who were in a study prep class for an entire semester; the end result, several improved their test scores by 50 points. 50 points may be the difference to getting into your desired program or not.
What to do:
a) Get a planner and write in the days and times of your upcoming classes and/or the test day.
b) When will you study?????? On the average, most students can do two hours per day. On the planner (yes!) make a date with yourself and schedule that study time.
c) How many days? Very few students want to study seven days a week. How about four or five days? Figure out which days of the week those will be for you and write that in your planner.
d) Have a 'study place' that is free from distractions (TV, computer, cell phone, cat, dog, brothers, sisters, etc.) and make this your place to study. Also, it should not be your bed (that's for sleeping!)
e) Lastly, you already know which sections will be difficult. Now is the time to reach out and find a tutor. Find someone who is good in that specific field. Determine if you are comfortable with that tutor; if not, change and find someone new. Schedule a regular 'check in time' each week for 30 to 60 mins. Ask the tutor how many weeks you should study for the test? Does that feel right? If not, up it to your comfort level.
You think, wow, that is so much money! Consider this, how much money will you spend if you have to retake this test? Think of it as an investment in your education and yourself.
Final word; set a goal for yourself. How about a 650 on SAT Reading or a 550 on TOEFL or passing that ASVAB the first time? Don't feel badly if you need some help to accomplish this goal; remember, not everyone is good at everything. We all need some help along the way. Hey, my students help me with computer functions all the time. Later!
Courtney W., MA