- Start Studying Early: Everyone thinks about their tests months in advance, but very few actually start studying that early! When ever you are being lazy and procrastinating, just remember, someone else taking the same test on the same day as you is already studying. They are already studying and they will be applying for the same programs you are!
- Master The Concepts: Most tests do not require you to learn much content, they typically test whether you can take a test and think critically or not. That being said, some tests like the GRE, USMLE, etc. require you to master the content. Learn the content early. Start reviewing the material, and learn bit by bit every single day (see The Seinfeld Solution to do this every day)
- Practice Practice Practice: Reading and learning concepts isn’t enough these days. You have to do practice questions. Before taking my medical licensing exams I did over 12,000 practice questions. I wouldn’t take back that time at all! I did better than I had expected. Practice questions are the biggest predictor of your score on Test Day.
- Know the Test: Sounds easy, I know, but most people do not understand the test well enough! They have not researched the different sections. They have not practiced pacing. They have not practiced how the different sections flow from one to another. Make sure you know if you are going to get penalized for wrong answers, etc.
- Have a Strategy: Do not go into test day without a strategy. Pick a testing strategy months before the exam and practice it! Practice pacing. Practice what you are going to do when you reach a question you know will take you a long time to solve. Practice the process of elimination. Practice the strategy that you come up with so that on test day it is second nature.
- Visit the testing center the day before: Too many people drive to their testing centers for the first time the day of the exam! If you do this, you are failing to prepare. You will not know where the site is exactly. You will not know ow traffic will be that day. You will not know how long it takes to park and walk to the site. Visit the site exactly 1 week before. Drive at the same time so you can prepare for traffic. Learn the route and make sure the day of the test you are comfortable with everything.
- Write out your testing practice schedule months in advance: Too many people do not make a study plan or if they do, they do not make one detailed enough. They start studying last minute or start early yet they never set realistic goals. Set goals for each day and each week. If you do not finish your goals for the day, make sure you make it up before the end of the week. Make the sacrifices early in the studying period and do not wait till the last minute to realize you have not been following your study plan.
- Follow the 3:2:1 method: This method has been my favorite for studying content and memorizing it. The first time you study something new, go over that information three times that first day. Not all at once, but review it three times that day. The following day, review that same new information two more times. Then on the third day, review that information one last time. This ensures you have reviewed the new information 6 times over the course of three days. This increases memory retention rate to 90%.
- Take practice tests every week on the same day of the week and at the same time as your real exam: Make sure you get in a habit of practicing taking a full length exam weeks before the test. Do this at the same time and day of your real test. This ensures you learn how to prepare for your test the night before. Each time you take a practice exam, prepare for it the same way you will prepare for the real exam.
- Quality over quantity: Often times people work on studying things a certain number of times instead of actively memorizing and studying the information in depth. Take your time and make sure all of the time you spend studying is quality. If you find yourself being unproductive, get up, stretch, drink some water, take a walk, and then get right back to it.
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