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Four Ways to Prepare for Standardized Tests While in Virtual School

With the one-year anniversary of the pandemic approaching, the Zoom fatigue of online school combined with homework, virtual club meetings, and summer program applications is probably overwhelming. Although the importance of ACT and SAT, in the short-term, has diminished due to colleges adopting a test-optional policy this year again, AP exams are still a factor. Plus depending on your situation, taking ACT/SAT when the centers open up may be crucial. In this virtual environment, studying for standardized tests like the SAT, ACT, and AP exams may seem like an impossible task. Follow these four tips to keep yourself sane while studying.

1. Purchase hardcopy prep books

Go the old-fashioned route and rely on paperback study books--Princeton Review, Barron’s, etc. Your eyes will thank you after hours of staring at your computer screen. You can easily purchase new or used books on Amazon or borrow old ones from the nearest public library.

2. Avoid studying after hours on a computer

Synchronous virtual learning is just as if not more exhausting than going to school in person because you’re not changing physical environments, moving your body, or interacting with peers in the same way. Your brain is, without a doubt, overwhelmed and exhausted after hours of screentime. Studying for a standardized test won’t be productive if you can’t devote your energy and focus to correctly solving practice problems, or taking practice tests.

3. Take practice tests on weekends

There’s a major difference between studying concepts, doing practice problems, and taking timed practice tests. If you’re relaxed and reviewing concepts for a half-hour on a weekday, chances are you’re not learning anything new. However, if you’re taking a practice test, you’ll need at least 2-3 hours without any distractions. The weekend is your best bet for achieving both.

4. Prepare like you’re taking the test in person

Even though it’s unclear when standardized tests will be administered in person again, you should practice like normal. This means staying away from your computer and doing the problems by hand.

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