Types of Standardized Tests

person taking a standardized multiple choice test

Standardized tests – two little words that cause big anxiety.  Through high school, college, and then graduate school, these tests seem to only get more complicated and more important. Deciding which type of standardized test to take and when to take it can seem tricky, but by planning ahead, students can pace themselves accordingly. Developing a testing timeline can increase the chances of a successful score. Consider the following suggestions while preparing for higher degrees of education.

Standardized Tests for Undergraduate Programs

ACT Versus SAT

The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the American College Testing (ACT) are different types of standardized tests intended to assess students’ readiness for college. The SAT and ACT generally test the same types of content, and both scores are used for college admissions and merit-based scholarships. Colleges will accept both tests equally.

How Do I Choose?

The truth is that since the 2016 redesign of the SAT, it has brought the test much closer to the ACT. The key difference is in the timing and how you prefer to solve problems. Visual thinkers may gravitate to the numerous charts, tables and graphs on the SAT. Strong readers who work well under time pressure may do better with the lengthily reading passages on the ACT.

You could do well on either test, so it is wise to explore both. Take a timed full-length practice test in each and decide which you like better. From that point focus your energy on the preferred method.

SAT Subject Tests

Formerly knows as the SAT IIs, Subject Tests assess a student’s knowledge of a specific field including math (level I and II), literature, several foreign languages, history and the sciences. This is used as additional criteria by particularly selective colleges or to gain admittance into majors that require a specific background or skill set.

Standardized Tests for Graduate Programs

The GREs

Students pursuing a master’s degree or a Ph.D. often need to take the Graduate Record Exams (GRE). If you want to attend law school, business school, or medical school, you will benefit from taking the exams that are associated with those specific programs (the LSAT, the GMAT, and the MCAT, respectively.)

GRE Subject Test

If your grad school interests are rooted in math, literature, or a specific area of science, you may need to take a GRE Subject Test. GRE Subject Test areas include: Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Literature in English, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology.

Getting Ready for Test Day

Regardless of the type of standardized test, preparation pays, and you want to make sure that you start soon enough. The amount of time that is necessary to prepare depends on the individual, as well as the score you hope to achieve. There are many resources that you can use as you begin the test preparation process. Familiarizing yourself with the nature of the test, testing environment, and grading procedure. This will boost your score as well as your confidence. Consider taking a preparation class or workshop in your area to improve your test-taking strategies.

The Big Day

The best way to prepare your brain and body is to get plenty of rest the night before and eat a good breakfast in the morning. Be sure to double – and triple – check the location and time of your test. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive early. Have everything you need prepared (I.D, calculator, extra pencils, a snack, a sweater, etc.).

Once the timer begins, be sure to pace yourself. Read the questions and directions carefully, mark your answers clearly, and review your work at the completion of each section.

How did it go?  Are you happy with your results?  If so, congratulations – you are now one step closer to your goal. Disappointed with your score? Don’t worry, you always have another shot at improving your marks.

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