Test Tips From an Irvine Online Tutor: A Commonly Overlooked Studying Strategy

As an Irvine tutor and teacher, I see students studying for tests in mostly the same ways: making flashcards, studying their notes, reading the text, and reviewing previous tests and quizzes if relevant. Although these can be some of the better tactics to learn the material, they aren't necessarily the best for explicitly preparing for a test. To best prepare for a test, the strategy is simple: mimic the test itself as closely as you can - prepare for your next big test with the help of an Irvine online tutor.

This means practice tests and practice questions. Reading and re-reading notes and chapters can be helpful. So, can checking what you did wrong on previous assignments. Flashcards are an exceptionally effective studying tool – if you're using them correctly. However, they all have the same flaw in that you'll never be really sure if you can recall the information needed on the test itself.

To remedy this, find (or make) and take practice tests or at least practice questions. If you're studying for a standardized test then you should be able to find full-length practice tests for free or for purchase (make sure you're using official*** ones). If you're taking a final, you can likely find practice cumulative tests or finals for similar classes online. If it's a specific chapter or section, you can likely search for tests on that topic. If not, textbooks often have practice questions that you can make into a test for yourself. Or, you can turn your own notes/flashcards/previous assignments into your test.

This is something I will frequently do for my students who I tutor that is very successful. To prepare them for an upcoming test, I look at the notes and material that they have and I turn it into a practice test that most closely mirrors the format and material that we can expect on the real test. To do this, you can use: exact questions from the textbook, exact questions from previous tests or assignments, slightly altered previous questions, flashcards in question form, notes turned into questions, and questions found online.

Regardless of how you do it, the most effective way to prepare for a test is to, well, take a test. Think of it as getting two attempts at your real test. The first one lets you see what you know and gives you a second chance at doing better on the next one that counts. It's even more effective if you come up with the tests with classmates or have a tutor help you make one. If a whole test is too much, make sure you're at least doing practice questions, not just reading. Make sure you are practicing answering questions – since answering questions is what you'll have to do on your big test.

Michael C. is currently a private math, science, and standardized test tutor with TutorNerd in Irvine and Anaheim.