Real SAT Questions: A Better SAT Practice Test
Between flash cards, note taking, highlighting, end-of-chapter review questions, and practice tests, it can sometimes be difficult to figure out which strategy is really the best to prepare for the SAT.
New science, however, is showing that practice testing is effective and can even help students retain knowledge while under the stress of a test-taking environment.
How Stress Gets in the Way of Retaining Information
A student can recite all the facts and figures they like, but when it comes to the time of the actual test, the acute stress and pressure can effectively wipe out many of these retained memories. In short, to test well, even the best students will need to practice the actual test-taking part of the exam.
Overcoming the pressure of the SAT means practicing for the environment itself. This way, the memories learned while studying can be better accessed with less stress.
The best way to do this? SAT practice tests, of course.
An SAT Practice Test is More than Just a Cute Way to Study
A new report from Tufts University, published in Science Magazine, found that SAT practice tests are one of the most effective ways to retain memory in the face of stress. As one researcher noted, “Typically, people under stress are less effective at retrieving information from memory.
We now show for the first time that the right learning strategy, in this case retrieval practice or taking practice tests, results in strong memory representations.”
Translation: practice tests are one of the most effective studying methods, hands down. This may be because a practice test simulates the environment and pressures of a test, which in turn helps protect the memory from losing key facts and figures in a new and stressful environment.
Practice tests drill students with the knowledge they need, and the simple act of practicing test-taking adds confidence when the real test finally arrives.
Real SAT Questions
Maybe you don’t have to be convinced of the value of practice tests. How then do you determine whether one test prep course is better than another?
We have a few suggestions:
- Quality of practice tests. Not all practice tests are made alike, after all. In fact, some practice tests are written to emulate the SAT without providing real SAT questions. Because practice tests aren’t standardized in the slightest, they can have some benefit but don’t produce the targeted results of a quality test. Look for tests that use real SAT questions.
- Does your SAT prep course guarantee improved scores or your money back? That’s perhaps the best way for a company to keep accountability and ensure parents that their money is being well-spent.