Standardized Test Preparations & Resources

Whether you are planning to become a teacher, go to graduate school, or attend law school, standardized tests will be a part of your future. There are many types of standardized tests as well as many types of test-takers. Therefore, there is no best way to prepare for success. But, there are factors that all test‐takers should consider before determining what to study, how to study, and the amount of time, effort, and (potentially) money they should dedicate to test preparation. These include your:

  • Academic strengths and weaknesses
  • Previous performance on standardized tests
  • Level of English proficiency
  • Amount and depth of material and the stakes of the test‐ i.e. whether a certain score is required for professional licensure and/or the competitiveness of graduate/post‐baccalaureate program.

Once you have reflected on these factors, here is some general advice that can help you craft your study plan:
Start early.

Determine when you will be taking the test (consider when institutions will need your scores) and budget preparation time with that end date in mind

Consider using the Reverse planning worksheet!

Register for the test

Submit all required forms and payment well in advance.

Familiarize yourself with the format of the test and determine what material it will cover

A great way to do this is to explore the testing agency's website. You may also decide to invest in a study guide or to take advantage of free test preparation resources online.

Create a study plan based on what you now know about the test

What material do you think will require more of your attention? How many practice tests should you take?

Note: If you require testing accommodations due to a disability, carefully review the testing agency's policy, procedures, and deadlines for test-takers with disabilities. Keep in mind that the process of gathering disability documentation and awaiting an eligibility determination from the testing agency can take several weeks or even months. Plan ahead and submit your materials early to ensure that you can take the test when you are ready.

Free Resources for Appalachian State students: 

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Some graduate programs require the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) for admission. If you recognize that your post-undergraduate plans will require you to take the GRE, below are some helpful tips to create your efficient study plan. 

Familiarize yourself with the GRE

Before you start studying, you should get to know how it is structured, what each section will test, and other general information.

  • This link provides information about the structure of the GRE.
  • This link will provide information on the latest cost of the GRE General Test.

Find Your Ideal Score

As you look at graduate schools, the programs will list what their average GRE scores are for successful applicants. Use these scores as your target score.

*Also, be aware that some programs do not require you to take the GRE! The Accelerated Admissions program here at Appalachian State does not require applicants to take the GRE.

Compare average scores between the programs you are considering. Here is Appalachian State's Speech Pathology information on their average scores for students entering their graduate program. 

This link will provide information on how each section is scored. It also includes information on (fee-based) options to report your scores selectively to different institutions.
Magoosh has provided this helpful chart to estimate what percentile you are scoring on a practice test.

Work through the practice tests provided by ETS

As you work through the problems, look up answers as you go. Don't time yourself yet. Just try each problem, and then correct yourself if needed.

For the verbal questions, try to make sense of why the right answer is the right answer by either looking up words in dictionaries or analyzing the passage or sentences for clues.

For the math sections, create a list of concepts to review, such as geometry rules, etc. based on the type of problems that are challenging to you.

Improve your math skills through practice

Check out these FREE resources that might help:

www.khanacademy.org
http://www.ixl.com/math/algebra-1 (10 problems a day are free!)
Take advantage of the Student Learning Center's drop-in math lab. Bring a review guide and problems that have given you trouble to go through with a tutor.
Review books can be checked out from the library, including digital practice tests.

Verbal skills can be improved in general rather than directly. Here are a few ideas that may help:

Read more! Whether this includes reading creditable newspapers like the New York Times or more challenging books, increasing your reading time will sharpen your verbal skills.

Build your vocabulary with www.freerice.com and with www.vocabulary.com that has some GRE lists.

Think as the test writers do. Some of the questions have distractor answers - ones that seem right at first glance but are designed to distract you from the hidden right answer. Check out Magoosh's tips on Thinking Like the Test Makers.

Prepare for the written portion by writing practice essays drawing from the pool of prompts provided by ETS:

Remember, you will have two essays- one argumentative essay and one issue essay.
Issue essay preparation
Argument essay preparation

Once you have written a few practice essays, get feedback from the Writing Center.

Take a timed practice test

Once you have worked through your study plan, download the Power Prep II software from the ETS website and take the timed practice test to see how you are doing. Use that information to determine what, if anything, you need to focus on further before registering for your test date.

Take care of yourself

Manage your stress-get exercise, take ten deep breaths daily, and whenever you feel stressed, think positively. See more ideas for managing your stress here.

Plan your week before the test

Check out this article from Chegg that lays out how to make the most of your time the week before the GRE.

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The Praxis Core is the required test for admission into the College of Education. You should review the College of Education's website to determine if you are eligible for exemption. If you do have to take the Praxis Core, please refer to this helpful site to begin your studying. Also, consider these helpful study tips as you begin.

Start early

Begin studying at least half a year before you take the test. You need time to get used to some of the question types, which may not be familiar to you. Practice will pay off, but it takes time. Schedule 30-45 minute time slots every day or so. You will be more likely to make progress if you can put in shorter sessions more often.

Familiarize yourself with the information about the Praxis Core

Find out the general structure and type of questions you will encounter.

Study the sample questions and practice material provided by Khan Academy

Work through the problems, one-by-one, untimed. Look up the answers right away. If you get a question wrong, study to make sense of why the right answer is the right answer. If you aren't sure, you can often google for more information that may help you make sense of it.

Take a full-length practice test if you can

Study for the practice test as if you were studying for the real test, then see how you do. If you do well, you are ready. If not, you may need further preparation.

Still not feeling confident? If you need more support than this individual review, a few resources may help:

  • The Writing Center can provide feedback on practice essays and sentence corrections.
  • Create a study group with others who plan to take this test, or to ask professors or other students to find out what review approach helped them the most. You also should find out what score you need to be competitive on the test. That may give you a sense of how much effort will be needed to do well.

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The LSAT is a standardized test required of all students interested in pursuing a law degree. You can find a great deal of information on the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC)'s website on the LSAT. Consider these important steps as you begin your study process for the LSAT.

Start early

Begin studying at least half a year before you take the test. You need time to get used to some of the question types, which may not be familiar to you. Practice will pay off, but it takes time. Schedule 30-45 minute time slots every day or so. You will be more likely to make progress if you can put in shorter sessions more often.

Familiarize yourself with the information about the LSAT

The LSAC website provides the general structure and type of questions you will encounter.

Study the sample questions and practice material the LSAC website provides

Work through the problems, one-by-one, untimed. Look up the answers right away. If you get a question wrong, study to make sense of why the right answer is the right answer. If you aren't sure, you can often google for more information that may help you make sense of it.

Take the full-length practice test

Study for the practice test as if you were studying for the real test, then see how you do. If you do well, you are ready. If not, you may need further preparation.

Still not feeling confident?

If you need more support than this individual review, a few resources may help:

  • The Writing Center can provide feedback on practice essays and sentence corrections.
  • Create a study group with others who plan to take this test, or to ask professors or other students to find out what review approach helped them the most. You also should find out what score you need to be competitive on the test. That may give you a sense of how much effort will be needed to do well.
  • Expand your vocabulary. Read a wide variety of texts and to look up words that you are not confident you can define. But first, guess what you think the word means from the context. 
    • A good supplement to this kind of vocabulary study within context is the use of a tool such as www.freerice.com to quiz yourself on words. Reading, however, is the most effective means to acquire new words.
  • The library usually has test preparation guides that you can check out for free, like Kaplan and Princeton Review.
  • Khan Academy provides LSAT Prep

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If you want to go to medical school, you will need to take the MCAT. You should start early to prepare for this test, preferably a year in advance of when you need to take it. Consider these important steps as you begin to study for the MCAT.

Start early

Set aside two evenings a week to study for 1 hour each. Or four nights a week for half an hour each. If you are able to study longer than that, great. If not, keep this as your minimum goal. Procrastination will tempt you--make yourself stick to this habit of study.

Familiarize yourself with the information about the MCAT

Browse thoroughly the parts of the AAMC website that provides tips and resources for preparing for the MCAT. Also, consider following the MCAT's tips to creating your own study guide.

Study the sample questions and practice material the AAMC provides

Work through the problems, one-by-one, untimed. Look up the answers right away. If you get a question wrong, study to make sense of why the right answer is the right answer.
Review the material for the questions that you consistently have trouble getting right.

Take a practice test

Study for the practice test as if you were studying for the real test, then see how you do. If you do well, you are ready. If not, you may need further preparation.

Still not feeling confident?

If you need more support than this individual review, a few resources may help:

  • Improve your reading speed and vocabulary. The verbal section requires reading lengthy and, at times, complex passages and answering detailed questions in a fairly short amount of time. The key to reading faster is to read more often and to read a variety of texts. Set aside time to read a creditable newspaper or challenging book 15 minutes a day. Push yourself to read a little faster than your habit. Whenever you encounter a word you do not know, pause to guess its meaning, then look it up.
  • Connect with study buddies. Create a study group with others who plan to take this test, or to ask professors or other students to find out what review approach helped them the most. You can also go in together on the cost for practice and study materials to defer the cost!
  • Khan Academy has resources for the MCAT
  • A possible resource, if you are interested in seeking out paid assistance (with a few free options) is www.MCAT-Prep.com.

***Note: students at Appalachian who wish to apply to Medical School need to connect early in their studies with the Health Professions Advising Office to learn more about all of the expectations and procedures related to this process. 

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If you intend to attend graduate school in a Business or Management-related field, most schools require the GMAT. The good news is that the makers of the GMAT provide wonderful online resources to aid in preparation. Along with using their website, here are important steps to consider when studying for the GMAT:

Start early

Set aside regular review sessions for at least a month before you take the test, longer if you are uneasy with standardized tests. Schedule 30-45 minute time slots every day or so. You will be more likely to make progress if you can put in shorter sessions more often.

Familiarize yourself with the information about the GMAT

Look through the website's videos and sections like "GMAT Exam Structure" and "Prepare to Perform Your Best on Test Day."

Study the sample questions the GMAT website provides

Work through the problems, one-by-one, untimed. Look up the answers right away. If you get a question wrong, study to make sense of why the right answer is the right answer. If you aren't sure, you can often google for more information that may help you make sense of it.

Take a practice test

Study for the practice test as if you were studying for the real test, then see how you do. If you do well, you are ready. If not, you may need further preparation.

Still not feeling confident?

If you need more support than this individual review, a few resources may help:

  • The Writing Center can provide feedback on practice essays and sentence corrections.
  • Visit the drop-in math learning lab.
  • Create a study group with others who plan to take this test or to ask professors or other students to find out what approach to reviewing helped them the most. You also should find out what score you need to be competitive on the test. That may give you a sense of how much effort will be needed to do well.

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Students intending to apply to Dental School are typically required to take the DAT, Dental Admission Test. This test is administered by the American Dental Association. Here are important steps to consider while studying for the DAT.

Start early

Set aside regular review sessions for at least three months before you take the test, longer if you are uneasy with standardized tests. Schedule 30-45 minute time slots every day or so. You will be more likely to make progress if you can put in shorter sessions more often.

Familiarize yourself with all information provided about the DAT

Go to the American Dental Association's website to review their information

Study the sample questions provided for free by the ADA

Work through the problems, one-by-one, untimed. Look up the answers right away. If you get a question wrong, study to make sense of why the right answer is the right answer. If you aren't sure, you can often google for more information that may help you make sense of it.

Consider purchasing and taking the practice test the ADA offers

Study for the practice test as if you were studying for the real test, then see how you do. If you do well, you are ready. If not, you may need further preparation.

Still not feeling confident?

If you need more support than this individual review, a few resources may help:

  • The Writing Center can provide feedback on practice essays and sentence corrections.
  • Visit the drop-in math learning lab.
  • Create a study group with others who plan to take this test, or to ask professors or other students to find out what review approaches helped them the most. You also should find out what score you need to be competitive on the test. That may give you a sense of how much effort will be needed to do well.

Return to Resources and Strategies page.