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Top 5 Reasons to Take Practice Tests

By August 28, 2015September 2nd, 2015ACT, College Counseling, SAT, SAT Subject Tests


“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” – Aristotle

At Compass, we are big fans of analogies. A great way for students to understand the preparation process is to compare the official test to an important sports match, performance, or concert. Just as we would not expect a pitcher to throw a perfect baseball game after a brief warm-up (or a singer to flawlessly perform an aria after learning a few scales), we do not expect students to reach their peak test scores after reviewing a handful of math and grammar problems. It is very important for students to “play the full 9 innings” and have realistic “dress rehearsals” before sitting down on test day for the real thing.

One of the best things a student can do to prepare for an official test is to take a full-length proctored practice test. Compass offers regular weekend practice tests throughout our service areas in Northern and Southern California. College admission tests offered include the PSAT, SAT, ACT, and SAT Subject Tests. For students in remote locations, we offer tests with detailed self-proctoring instructions and easy scoring through our online portal. At our proctored events, students benefit from experiencing the tests in a realistic environment, surrounded by peers. Although it can be helpful to complete a practice test section at home or with a tutor, the exercise is not nearly as instructive as completing a 3 to 4-hour test in a simulated testing environment.

In addition to providing students with a practice opportunity, Compass’ practice tests give valuable diagnostic information about a student’s starting point and a realistic range of improvement. Each completed test comes with a detailed score report, which displays question types, the student’s responses, and the correct answers. Our score reports let students and tutors zero in on areas of weakness in order to maximize prep time before the big day.

To recap, here are the top 5 reasons practice tests are so important for students:

1. Building Stamina

College admission tests are long! They are events that require prolonged, focused attention and stamina. Taking practice tests helps students to build the resilience necessary to perform well on test day.

2. Putting It All Together

While practicing grammar and math problems separately is great, it is valuable to put all of your tools and strategies together in the same sequence you will implement during test day. Are you mentally ready to switch from English to Math or from Reading to Science when the clock is ticking? Use practice tests to learn how to transition between subjects with ease.

3. Preparing for Extremes

Sometimes test day conditions are less than ideal: the room is hot; there’s construction outside; you can’t see the clock; the person next to you is fidgeting. By the laws of nature, these things can happen during practice tests too. If your first experience with something unexpected happens during a practice test, you’ll be better equipped to expertly handle whatever may come your way during the official sitting.

4. Obtaining Valuable Diagnostic Information

Get a question-by-question breakdown of what went well and what could be improved to help you focus your studying prior to the official test. For example, do you consistently miss questions about pronoun usage and geometry? With that knowledge, you can now calibrate your test preparation to highlight these areas of weakness.

5. Practice Tests Are FREE

Your first practice test with Compass is totally complimentary. After experiencing the test firsthand, you can review your results with a Compass Director and determine a plan of action that meets your specific score goals. Students who work with Compass have access to unlimited proctored practice test opportunities, which form the cornerstone of any test prep program.

If you would like to take advantage of a free proctored practice SAT, ACT, PSAT, or SAT Subject Test – and obtain a detailed analysis of your performance – contact a Compass director to reserve a space at a location that is convenient for you.


The Compass Team

Compass is one of the world's leading providers of in-home and online, live one-on-one tutoring for high school students aspiring to attend selective colleges.

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