Many institutions worldwide have different requirements that students must submit, including proof of passing an entrance exam or getting a certain score from specific standardized tests. 

Although each type of test has its own format and focus or subject matter – for example, TOEFL and IELTS test English proficiency while GMAT and GRE test higher-order thinking skills—some general preparations are basically the same. Many test-takers usually pour in all their efforts days before the exam, even pulling all-nighters and neglecting to eat. 

This is what many would describe as studying hard. However, what you should aim for is studying smart. Whereas studying hard can be stressful and not as efficient, studying smart is less stressful and can produce better results. 

Below are some tips to study smart and increase your standardized test scores. 

Take Practice Tests 

Don’t just passively read your materials and pass it off as studying; take practice tests regularly and monitor your progress. 

Decades of research have shown that taking tests on your own makes it easier to recall information. As a result, you get to strengthen your long-term learning ability. 

Psychologist Keith Lyle of the University of Louisville put this to the test using two groups of students. One group is given short quizzes after each class session, while the other group was not given any. At the end of the semester, Lyle found that the first group performed better than the second group on four midterm exams. 

So every few weeks as you prepare for your standardized test, challenge yourself and take a practice test. Make sure you take note of your score each time so you can keep track of your progress. Don’t forget to time yourself!  

Create a Study Plan

Creating a study plan is a good way to organize your review sessions and ensure you have set aside enough time for each subject matter. A study plan also makes sure you are not multi-tasking when you study. 

Studies have shown that multitasking while studying is not the best way to go. Not only is it a great way to get distracted, but it also makes studying less productive. Stanford researchers have found that multitaskers actually accomplish less than those who don’t multitask that much.

Write Notes by Hand Instead of Using Electronics 

These days, laptops, tablets, and smartphones have become more commonly used, to do everything, including studying. However, studies have shown that the best way to take notes while learning new concepts is (still) by writing. 

This is because gadget users have the tendency to just transcribe lectures or information verbatim instead of processing the information on their own and writing what they have learned in their own words. 

Take Breaks

Getting a high score is the goal, but continuous studying without breaks can be counterproductive because it would leave you fatigued and therefore unable to focus and store essential information. 

So, pace yourself and take study breaks. Not only are these useful in boosting your productivity, but they also increase your ability to concentrate, which is crucial when you study. You can use the Pomodoro Technique to help you manage your time and ensure you get enough breaks. 

Here’s how it works: For every 25-minute study session, take a break for five minutes. Stand up, do some light stretching. You can also close your eyes or look at something in the distance to prevent eye strain. 

After doing this four times, take a longer break of about 15 to 30 minutes. Drink a glass of water and have a healthy snack, or go for a short walk. During your study breaks, it’s best to refrain from using your gadgets to ensure you are fully taking the time to relax your mind. 

So there you go – practice, plan, write your notes by hand, and take breaks so you can be in top test-taking condition. You can get more study tips to get impressive standardized test scores by browsing through other MSM Unify articles including tips to manage your anxiety. Good luck! 

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