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It is a common phenomenon where students are not able to get their test-day scores to match their practice test scores. To them the gap seems unsurmountable. No matter how much they work hard, or how many practice tests they take, they underperform at the actual test.
If you are one of such students, we suggest to read this blog. There are a few common reasons that official scores remain persistently lower than practice scores.
1. Test taking anxiety--fast and slow
It is natural for you to feel anxious on a test. That can manifest in many ways. You could freeze and lose confidence and try to over thing thus missing a few questions. Or, you could speed up, trying to do everything as fast as possible and start making mistakes.
If you are a slow test taker, speed up. Don't over think. If you are a fast test taker, slow down. There is usually more time than you think.
At Hillview Prep, we use an interval based strategy to teach you the right pacing for your test. Test taking is mostly about learning how to take tests when you know the material. Our methods will train you how to pace yourself correctly and bridge your performance gap.
2. Are you taking the wrong tests?!
Third-party tests (Kaplan, Barron’s, Princeton Review, etc.) are not interchangeable with the real thing. They are good to improve your understanding and abilities, but they are not the real tests. The questions they ask are different and that may be one reason why your official test scores are different than your practice ones.
At Hillview Prep, we carefully plan your learning. We interleave the third-party tests with the real tests so you build your stamina and experience in answering test questions. We make sure that you see different publishers, but not lose sight of the real tests. We also make sure you are not just using old tests.
3. Are you second guessing your answers?
Often students second guess themselves. They go back and check and double-check their answers, and end up changing the right answers to wrong ones. Many students lose points this way.
At Hillview Prep, we teach you how to guess when you are unsure of your answers. Our deducting reasoning methodology limits the number of pure guesses, so you don't have to go back and second guess your answers all the time.
4. Beware the distractions!
At home you can concentrate easily, as long as you put away your digital devices and other distractions. During the official tests, many students get distracted because their concentration got thrown off by the test taker in front of them. Maybe they were kicking their chairs, humming a tune or tapping their pencils. If someone in the room is really being loud, you can obviously ask your proctor to stop the distractor.
At Hillview Prep, we organize bootcamps and classes which mimic real test conditions. You will be taking tests with other kids, which means distractions. You could take tests using earplugs, but they may not be allowed in the real test centers due to past cheating scandals.
5. Can you sustain your focus?
Real tests are long, and unlike studying at home, you don't have access to your phone, or frequent breaks, etc. If you are not used to focusing for long periods, your performance in the real test will suffer.
At Hillview Prep, our interval pacing strategy trains you to focus for longer periods of time, thus building your test taking endurance. We teach you how to pace yourself, how to take short mental breaks without losing the flow of the test. Just like you would train for a marathon, we train you to build your endurance for the grueling test.
6. Are you being stubborn and not applying better test strategies?
We have seen smart students underperform in actual tests. The reason is that they are stubborn and refuse to implement the strategies we teach. A case in point. A bright, straight-A student came to us for ACT test prep. We coached him in better test taking strategies. He refused to use your strategies and ended up scoring a 30. We believe he could have scored a 34, given his high level of knowledge and expertise, but he refused to implement better strategies.
At Hillview Prep, we try to match our strategies with your strengths and coach you how to use your strengths to conquer your weaknesses. However, if you refuse to implement good strategies, you will underperform in your tests.
Contact us if you need help on your test prep. Call today!