Tips for Standardized Tests

There are many types of standardized tests...and test-takers. For these reasons, there is no best way to prepare for success. There are, however, 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 the student's academic strengths and weaknesses, previous performance on standardized tests, level of English proficiency, the 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.

Here is some general advice that applies to most standardized tests:

  • Start early. Determine when you will be taking the test and budget preparation time with that end date in mind.
  • 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.
  • Register for the test. Submit all required forms and payment well in advance.

If you do nothing else to prepare, make sure you take at least one practice test before the real thing.

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.