One Tip for Conquering Standardized Tests

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By The Olive Book founder, Professor Michael Ermann

You think you need to do about a hundred things to do well on standardized tests like the ACT or SAT. You really only need one: content ownership

Content ownership means really understanding the content on the test. You don’t fear easy tests, so learn enough to make the test easy, or easy enough to get your goal score. This requires a good understanding of what you don’t know, so pay as much attention to the questions you get wrong as the questions you get right. 

How to Motivate Yourself to Study

Be Wary of These Three Things

There are three things to be wary of as you study for these tests. First, be wary of people and products that overly focus on testing tricks. Don’t get caught up in interpreting the test-maker’s intentions, or general strategies for standardized tests. A few test strategies are good. But like I said earlier, actually owning the content, really knowing it, is both the surest and fastest path to a better score. 

Don’t get caught up in interpreting the test-maker’s intentions, or general standardized-test-taking strategies.

Second, be wary of people and products that overly focus on memorizing tricks. Memorizing is important for some math concepts (SOH CAH TOA, area and perimeter of a circle), but memorizing in anticipation of a question you saw on a practice test is not a good use of your time. Owning the content gives you the highest likelihood of correctly answering a question you couldn’t anticipate.

Be wary of people and products that overly focus on memorizing tricks. Owning the content gives you the highest likelihood of correctly answering a question you couldn’t anticipate.

Third, be wary of people and products that overly focus on lifting you up. A reminder is warranted, now and then, that you can do this, that you’ve earned confidence with your competence, and that you should not put your plan to eat healthy on pause for the entire duration of your studies. Yet if positive messages of emotional support (we’re-in-this-together, and I’m-here-for-you) comprise more than 5% of a study program’s time, you are in a cult rather than a study group. Go hug the people who really love you, then sit down to study. 

If positive messages of emotional support (we’re-in-this-together, and I’m-here-for-you) comprise more than 5% of a study program’s time, you are in a cult rather than a study group. Go hug the people who really love you, then sit down to study. 

Go In There Like You Own the Test (and More Tips for the ACT or SAT)

Focus on What’s Most Important

Testing tricks, memorization, and motivating messages aren’t bad – they’re just not the most important thing. If you focus instead on owning the content on the ACT or SAT, you’ll find the new knowledge you’ve gained not only increases your score but increases your grades and improves your chances of success in college.

If you’re looking for ACT or SAT test prep that focuses on helping you learn what’s tested, check out our online prep courses for the ACT and SAT. They’re both free for a limited time. Enroll at www.olive-book.com.

Get a better score. Get into a better school.

Olive Book’s online ACT and SAT courses are all you need to boost your score. Check them out:

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