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Before the test, create your SAT/ACT checklist
  • Calendar May 30, 2019
  • User Jared Wells
  • Category In Uncategorized
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With the SAT coming up in just a couple days, there is not a lot of time to learn new information. Cramming is not going to help! But that does not mean that it’s too late to study. One great thing you can do with a day or two left until your test is create your test checklist.

Over the course of your preparation, you’ve undoubtedly made a lot of mistakes. That’s a good thing! Each mistake is an opportunity to learn what to do, and what not to do, when the test comes around. Hopefully, in your practice, you’ve used what you’ve learned from those mistakes to improve your processes. Now is a great time to consolidate and boil down those lessons into checklists you can bring into your test.What is a test checklist?

A test checklist is a list of the five most important things you need to remember going into each test. At the end of this article, I’ll give you a list of ideas that have gone on many of our student’s checklists over the years, but the key is that the list needs to be YOURS. It isn’t practical for you to take someone else’s list (or the tactics in a test prep book) and try to remember to apply all of them when you take your test. You need to figure out what are YOUR five most important ones (based on the mistakes that you’ve made in your practice). Five is a number that you can actually work with and remember during the test.

Step 1: Document what you needed to do differently on every question you missed over the course of your test preparation process.

Collect all of your test prep material. The problems you’ve worked through and your practice exams. Go through every problem you missed, and in a few words, summarize what you needed to do differently to get the question correct. Try to focus on observable actions rather than thoughts (for example, “use my finger as a pacer when I read” instead of “read faster” or “draw a line through answers contradicted by the evidence” rather than “think about each answer choice” Write these takeaways down on a separate sheet of paper. One paper for math, one for reading, and one for English

Step 2: Consolidate your takeaways

As you are writing down your takeaways for each question, try to consolidate them. For example, if you are looking at a math problem you could have solved if you had graphed the function, and you already wrote “draw a picture” as a takeaway for a previous problem, graphing a function could fit under that category. Instead of writing a new line, put a tally mark next to “draw a picture”. They don’t have to be an exact fit. The key is this: when you look at a function during the test and say “draw a picture”, will that remind you to graph the function? If so, it fits. The key is to consolidate the ideas as much as you can.

Step 3: Identify the five most important takeaways for each test

For each test (math, reading, English) identify the five takeaways that came up the most frequently. Those five, for each test, are your “checklists” Try to write each item as concisely as possible. Your job from now until test day is to memorize your checklists. Hopefully, this isn’t going to be too difficult, as you’ve encountered these errors numerous times over the course of your prep, but these need to be memorized backwards and forwards!

Step 4 (during the test): Use your checklist

When you start the test section, take a few seconds to write your checklist down on the first page of the test section. Shorthand is fine. Then, after you finish a question (or when you are stuck or confused), think through each item of your checklist for that test section to see if any of the items could apply to the question.

If you worked with us on your test prep, you already have these takeaways written down in your spiral notebook in your logs. Go through each of these takeaways as in step 2 above.

Going into test day with your weapons sharpened, so to say, can make a big difference! Spend an hour or two the next day or so to create and memorize these checklists so that you can put what you’ve learned to use. Good luck this weekend!


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