Essential Ingredients for Test Prep!

By Loren Deutsch

Taking a standardized test? Make sure to practice. Practice is a highly effective study tool for any test prep plan.

The experience of practicing and revisiting the process of remembering is critical for learning. Often time’s memorization strategies become the hallmark of test preparation, particularly when tests include remembering vocabulary or math formulas. Memorization is often believed to be sufficient for learning and test preparation. Unfortunately, as test questions increase in complexity and require students to apply information or engage in abstract reasoning, memorization merely becomes a point of entry for learning. A student needs to do more.

In preparation for a high stakes exam, particularly when the subject matter is complex and multi-facetted, it is important to practice remembering it, and not just reading, reviewing, or memorizing. Achievement scores tend to plateau lower when students engage in memorization techniques, rereading notes, and other lower level learning (memorization and comprehension are the lowest), rather than completing practice questions with spaced repetition aimed at practicing higher order thinking to deepen fund of knowledge, and build efficiency of recall. Rote memorization is a point of entry for learning but not a guarantee for remembering, particularly on high stakes exams.

Recall practice is far more time efficient in learning how to accurately and efficiently excavate information during time-sensitive periods, such as while taking a test. There are other essential ingredients in test preparation, but recall practice is one of the most effective ways to deepen fund of knowledge and promote recall during test taking and beyond.

The fact is learning requires memorizing, but memorizing is only an entry point for learning and not sufficient for recollection. To remember test information, practicing recall is critical. With college entrance exams scheduled around the school year, the SAT and ACT are never far from mind. Below are five tips for SAT and ACT success. Individual timelines and achievement scores will vary.

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