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One of the biggest factors to standardized testing that most seem to overlook is the simple fact that these standardized exams are, in fact, standardized. That is, the exam is nationally or globally administered; it is the same across the whole country, or sometimes, across the whole world. Given this fact, you should consider that all of the major review packages for said exam will cover essentially the same material. Some may cover certain subjects or areas better than others, but at the end of the day, these major competitors are going to do pretty much the same job at covering the material. It is therefore crucial that you pick a review package based on your own learning style and NOT based on who has the flashiest advertisements or what you heard some folks talking about at the coffee shop.
Know how the exam works, and obsess over the details. For instance, remember that the BEC essays are graded on structure, development, and use of language; NOT correct answers. Taking time to ponder the correct answer on these essays could be a grade breaker!
The next point I'd like to make concerns commitment. Since each review is going to cover similar material, one must commit to their chosen study program and grind through it. Though some review programs will help guide you through the material, it is ultimately up to you to do the work and learn the material. It is important that you set up a regular study schedule and stick to it. Be thorough, and do not cut corners.
Finally, you must be realistic in your goals and take a sustainable approach to your studying. Face it, extended studying yields diminishing returns. The first several hours you study in a day may be very effective, but the longer you push forward, the less material is going to actually stick in your noggin. You may be able to study 16 hours in a day, but it is unlikely that you can persistently repeat this procedure and still digest the material. The point I'm trying to make is that you need to rest. Take breaks, eat well, and get regular exercise. Locking yourself in your room and cramming for 72 hours leading up to the exam is not likely to lead to a passing score.
As a last minute tip, it is also very useful to join an online forum or community where you can strategize with others taking the exam and bounce ideas off of one another. I assume you have already done this if you're reading this, so you're already on the right track! :D
Do you have any other tips for preparing for and taking standardized exams? Post them below!
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