Proctoring an organized diagnostic/practice test is an easy job. All the proctor does is keep time and “babysit” a room full of quiet kids, right? So, why even wake up early and go into an office or classroom to do something you could do at home?
One reason is that some students don’t take the practice tests seriously (or even take them at all) from the comfort and convenience of their homes. For students who follow some simple advice, however, a test from home can be just as useful as a proctored experience.
At LA Tutors, we offer proctored practice and diagnostic tests at our office, but also give students the option to take them at home. It’s important, however that students (whether they’re using LA Tutors or prepping through another method) take these tests seriously, or they won’t be a good reflection of the student’s actual performance.
What does it mean to take a practice test the right way? Here are some tips:
- Take the entire test in one sitting. While taking a test one section at a time can be good for practice, the sustained concentration required for a full test requires practice on its own.
- Take the practice test around the time you will take the real test. I suggest actually scheduling them onto your calendar so you don’t get busy and run out of time. Usually, this means a weekend morning, when your mind is fresh.
- Time yourself, or have a parent time you, accurately. This means you don’t add a few extra seconds to answer that last question, even if it’s tempting!
- Mimic test conditions and rules. Take the test in a quiet place and turn off all electronic devices. Avoid snacks and bathroom breaks except during “scheduled” times.
- Don’t accept help from parents or the Internet. As tempting as it might be to look up that formula or get some advice, if you can’t use it on the test, don’t use it on the practice test!
While many of these tips may seem like common sense, as tutors we’ve seen every version of the opposite of this advice: students who have never taken an entire practice test at once, students who took their practice test at midnight after a full day of school and homework, students who took the test on a crowded airplane, parents who walk their child through every question…. Of course, we understand that everyone has busy lives and that it’s not always easy to carve out three hours to take a practice test. If you’re serious about doing well on the real test, however, it’s important to be just as serious about the practice and diagnostic tests. After all, if you don’t get an accurate idea of your progress then you’ll only be cheating yourself!