“Practice makes perfect.” This saying is a cliché for good reason. In school, sports, even social interactions, and literally every aspect of life, practice improves our performance. It is no surprise then that consistently taking practice tests is imperative for students trying to reach their highest possible score on a standardized test.
How is taking a full practice test different than doing individual sections of a test for homework?
- Endurance: A full test helps build up test-taking stamina. If you are scheduled to compete running a mile race, would you expect that practicing only quarter-mile runs will adequately prepare you for race day? Of course not. And the same is true of standardized tests: practicing individual sections certainly helps, but it doesn’t provide adequate practice. Students need to practice putting everything together across all sections and maintaining their focus for the duration of a full test if they are going to reach their highest possible score.
- Familiarity: Often there is a gap between scores that students get on homework sections and those they get on test day. But, if the homework sections are all from real past tests, then why the gap since the homework is the exact same as the real tests? Their execution on test day is the only difference. In order to close that gap, students need to simulate test day as much as possible at home so that the real test feels just like a practice test: then their test day scores are more likely to accurately reflect their homework scores. (It is also helpful to remind students that on most standardized tests they do not have to report all of their scores to schools and might even be able to delete past scores, so they can take those real tests as practice tests – this knowledge helps alleviate pressure and also close the gap between real tests scores and homework test scores.)
How often should a student take a mock test?
- At least once per month. Any less than this and a student is not getting adequate practice, and more often is usually better (the only exception is if a student is doing more mock tests than they have time to review – then they might just be cementing bad habits).
Where can I take a practice test?
- There are tests available online for most exams, but Summit Prep also hosts in-person and virtual practice tests for most exams: Summit Prep Practice Tests.
To get the most out of their prep, practice their pacing so they don’t run out of time on test day, improve their test-taking stamina, and reach their score potential, all students should take full practice tests.
Links to Official Practice Tests:
- Official SAT Practice Tests: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/practice/full-length-practice-tests
- Official ACT Practice Tests: https://www.act.org/content/act/en/products-and-services/the-act/test-preparation/free-act-test-prep.html
- Official PSAT Practice Tests: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/psat-nmsqt-psat-10/practice/full-length-practice-tests
- Official ISEE Practice Tests: https://www.erblearn.org/families/isee-preparation/
- Official SSAT Practice Tests: https://www.ssat.org/prepare/practice
- Official GRE Practice Tests: https://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/prepare/powerprep
- Official LSAT Practice Tests: https://www.lsac.org/lsat/prep/official-lsat-sample-tests
- Official GMAT Practice Tests: https://www.mba.com/exam-prep/gmat-official-starter-kit-practice-exams-1-and-2-free