The biggest SAT or ACT prep mistake to make is, in my opinion, not dwelling enough on your mistakes. It’s human nature, after all, to want to dwell in our successes and sweep our mistakes under the rug, but this makes no sense at all when it comes to test prep. Here are three tips for allowing yourself to reap the benefits of dwelling in your mistakes.
1) Don’t just say “I get it”–prove it
If you’ve missed a problem and learned how to solve it, you should be able to do a similar problem successfully. If you can’t, you need to spend more time reviewing the original problem. Ask yourself: “Where did I go wrong?” Then, identify what you needed to have known and done in order not to have been led astray.
2) Know the type of question that you missed
Maybe you keep missing subject-verb agreement questions or transition questions on the ACT English test. Maybe interpreting graphs always goes wrong for you. Perhaps you’re not so good at trigonometry. Perhaps it’s main idea questions on the ACT Reading that trip you up. Whatever the case, identify the error category for the mistakes you make. Simply being able to say, “Okay, subject-verb agreement, subject-verb agreement” goes a long way toward ensuring that you’ll pay closer attention the next time a subject-verb agreement crops up.
3) Keep a journal of mistakes
Every time you make a mistake, whether careless or careful, log the problem number, page number, or test number in a journal. It’s probably wise to keep separate lists for English, Reading, Math, and Science. In the days before you take the test, revisit and review each and every one of your past mistakes. Don’t just gloss over them, though. Actually redo and rework the problem until you’ve gotten the correct answer and understand why the correct answer is correct.
4) If you made a careless mistake once, don’t assume that you won’t make it again
Many students only review questions they genuinely struggled with, rather than questions they confidently answered incorrectly. If you confidently answer a question only to find that you were incorrect, that’s a sign that you TRULY need to review the question. Don’t give yourself the benefit of the doubt–if you make a careless mistake once, you’re liable to make it again.
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