How to do well on standardized tests.

Now I know what you expect from a post like this, you expect a step by step, point by point instruction manual on how to score better on college admission tests. You would like that, wouldn’t you? See that’s what learning has come to these days. Well, you’re not going to get that. Instead I’m going to tell you that there is no exact definition of ‘’well’’ in the title of this post.

You see as far as testing is concerned, everything is subjective. That being said, I will go about defining everything relevant before I define ‘’well’’ because the best way to deal with something that is subjective is to define it. Let’s start with testing. I think testing actually became a legitimate thing when people began asking questions. Questions like, ‘’what am I going to do in life?’’ and ‘’what am I worth?’’. The answers to these questions I think, came in the form of testing because what is a test after all if not an accurate measure of one’s capacity, although there is much controversy on the ‘’accurate’’ point, it would be wise not to dwell too much on that.

So testing has happened throughout history and it has evolved since. Now, a person goes through his first test when he begins school and keeps on taking them until he finishes his education, I say until he finishes but it’s actually to finish his education, as in if he fails the test he can’t go to a higher grade in school. After finishing school, he now encounters a new kind of test known as standardized testing which goes by different names such as the SAT’s, the ACT’s and the GRE’s; which are normally used as entrance tests to a higher education institution after high school. These tests aim to increase the ‘’accuracy’’ factor which I spoke about in the beginning by providing students with that same kind of questions, under the same conditions so that they can get an accurate measure of a student’s capacity in memory and analytical based skills.

So what do you see here? Do you notice anything significant? Well if you say there will always be tests, then you are right. So look back at all the tests you have ever done and think about how you did on them. Good, bad or average? Well here’s the thing; it doesn’t matter how you did on them. What matters is what they taught you. When you failed, and I’m sure all of us have at some point. What did you get from it?

The common excuse people give you when they fail is ‘’I tried’’, but the question is did you try your best? Did you give it your all? If you have then your failure is justified. How can failure be justified you ask? Well, you see the most extraordinary thing about us humans is our ability to pick up ourselves up, the ability to rise from the ashes like a phoenix, dying in flame. This is why it’s okay to fail when you have tried your best, because when you push yourself to your limit and then falter, that is when you exceed yourself. That is when you become more than what you are.

This may all seem deep and philosophical right now, but there is a key to it. That key is actually really simple and has been told to us throughout our lives, which is of course, practice or rather hard work. ‘’Hard work is the key to success’’ you might have heard your parents say. And that is the one and only step that you must take to do well on your standardized test, or any test for that matter. Put in the effort, reach your potential. And potential is different for everybody. The thing I like about a standardized test like the SAT is that everyone has a score and they can only improve so much after getting that score. That score will measure the individuals full potential in the respective areas which the test measures.

So that’s why I said that as far as scores are concerned, everything is subjective and that there is no exact definition of ‘’well’’. So you shouldn’t feel bad if you got a 1500 on your SAT or a 2000. If you feel that you have tried your best then you should be happy with the score you got and you can proudly say that I have scored ‘’well’’, you would be wasting your time if you tried to improve from there. They say that if you do something repeatedly then you will eventually master it. They have a magical number for that, which is 10000 hours of practice. It says that if you put ten thousand hours of practice into something you will master it. But that defeats the entire concept of standardized testing. You may have the money and the time to take the test several times but others may not. If you think about it, some people taking the test many times and others just once purely because of circumstance is quite un-standardized. That being said the number of times one should take the test should be two, and not once more. Frankly, any idiot can score better in the SAT if he does it repeatedly.

So that’s it. If you put enough time and effort and fail when you practice enough times and feel that you can improve no more, the marks you get then, are the marks that you should accept. That simply is how you do well on your standardized test.



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