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Whether you’re studying for the SAT, LSAT or MCAT, the core approach to your prep work is going to be the same. Of course, the subject matter and testing format is different, but the general framework is consistent.
As such, there is a set of generally applicable tips that apply across the board. In this guide, we explore five things you need to incorporate into your routine as you prep.
Use A Prep Course
Without a doubt, there is no sense in going it alone in your studies. Whether you’re studying for the ACT, GRE or bar exam, there is a commercial prep course for every test.
These courses have been curated by experts (often the makers of the exam) and vetted for years. So why reinvent the wheel trying to study on your own? A prep course can be the make or break difference in your prep work.
Even though they might be pricey, they are worth the investment. Not to mention, prep companies like Magoosh run sales and discounts all the time, offering access to these top-shelf study materials for a reasonable price.
One mistake exam takers often make is waiting until the last minute and trying to cram. You simply can’t do that with exams like the CPA exam and LSAT. There is often either too much material or too much nuance to the test to learn in just a few days.
It is critical that you stretch your studies out over the course of months. Even if this means having to study after class or at night after work, you need to find time over an extended period. This gives the material a greater chance to sink in.
Practice Under Exam Like Conditions
Watching video lessons and reading prep books alone isn’t enough. You also need to prep under exam-like conditions. This is generally going to mean taking several, if not dozens, of tests under exam-like conditions.
Find a quiet place, set your timer, and take the test without interruption, just like you plan to on test day.
This will help you sort out any pacing issues, as well as condition your mind for the rigors of the test. Without this type of life-like preparation, it would be like never running more than 5 miles before running a marathon.
Review Incorrect and Correct Problems
Another common mistake test takers make is only reviewing missed problems after taking practice tests. They will get their results, review their missed answers, and move on.
However, to gain a truly deep understanding of the material being tested and the way in which it is tested is to review the problems you also got right. Yes, it will take extra time and add onto your workload, but this is often where some of your biggest gains will come from.
Rest Your Brain
The last study tip is to, well, not study. Rest and recovery can be just as important as hitting the books hard. You need to provide adequate time for your brain to absorb what it has learned and transfer that material to your long term memory.
This relates back to not cramming. By studying over an extended period of time, little by little each day, your brain can more effectively absorb and retain the material.
Ideally, you should never study more than 6 hours per day. Allow plenty of rest between sessions to recover and relax.
There are a million ways to approach studying for an entrance exam; however, the core set of principles outlined above will almost always be effective. Incorporate these tips into your study plan and you’ll nail your test.