How to Make Your Own Standardized Test Study Schedule

Studying for your next ACT or SAT exam can be overwhelming, but with an organized study plan, you can make the most of your time and get a better score. If you would rather prepare alone than with a tutor, creating a standardized test study schedule is an absolute must. Preparing for college entry exams takes more than a month to be the most effective, so make sure you can set aside enough time. For your study schedule, you will need to tackle a certain number of test subjects per week rather than study a little bit of each everyday.

The easiest way to plan out your study schedule is to check out a test prep book from the library, purchase your own from a bookstore, or look for online resources to guide you through each subject. Whether you choose to study daily or a few times a week, you should always complete a full-length practice test each weekend and learn new vocabulary words everyday.

Here is a 6-week study guide you can follow when preparing for your college admission exams.

Week 1

1. Confirm your test registration, and take note of the date and time of your test.

2. Read over the test basics to know the exact skills your test measures, its length, format and any testing strategies that will help you sort out the best answers.

3. Take a full practice test to assess the areas you need to spend more time on and those you only have a little work to perfect.

4. Based on your practice test scores or the section order of the standardized exam you registered for, pick your weakest area, and plan to study that next week. Even though the essay section is first on the SAT, you will practice your writing skills towards the end.

5. Learn at least five new vocabulary words each day or 35 words per week. Purchase a set of flash cards, or look for a list of popular words online.

Week 2

1. Start and end each study day with your vocabulary words. As you move through each day, refresh your memory on yesterday’s words before moving to the next.

2. Start out with your worst practice exam section or the most complex subject. For this example, we will use math first because it requires more concrete skills, making it easier to perfect with practice.

3. Begin reviewing basic algebra and algorithms, followed by math word problems and geometry. Move on to Algebra II, and add basic trigonometry fundamentals if you are taking the ACT.

4. Mid-week, complete a practice exam for the section you have been studying. After it is complete, review your answers, and rework the problems you missed to understand where you went wrong.

5. At the end of the week, make sure you have gone over all 35 words, and complete a full-length practice test. Look for areas of improvement and weaknesses.

Week 3

1. Start each study day by reviewing your flash cards, and read a section of the newspaper or online articles to get accustomed to interpreting passages. Write down the main ideas of the stories you read, who you think the audience is, the author’s purpose and any questions that popped into mind while reading.

2. This week, you will add the reading portion to your standardized test study schedule. Go over the reading sections from the practice exams you have finished, and complete new practice stories.  Memorize the type of questions asked like sentence referrals, definitions, the author’s tone and main idea. Read the questions first before reading each passage so you will already have in mind what you should be looking for.

3. Practice different techniques like reading the first and last sentence of each paragraph, highlighting when the story shifts, any outliers or keywords, and skimming. Get comfortable with marking on your test, and underline or circle each category with a pencil. You can write anywhere on the test booklet but not on the answer sheet during the real test.

4. Time yourself for each passage you complete, and minimize your time to 5 minutes per passage to give yourself more time to skim or recheck the stories one last time before time ends.

5. End your week by completing a full-length practice exam and going over your vocabulary words.

Week 4

1. Memorize your 35 definitions, and create a sentence for each word to see how you interpret its meaning. Look for full sentences that include those words in the dictionary or online to measure how well you understand them in context.

2. Because the SAT alternates back and forth between sections, focus on math again for half of the week, and end with critical reading. This will help you get used to having to think of multiple subjects at one time. For the ACT, begin studying for the English section.

3. Look back over some of the past words to see if you remember them, and add more than 35 new words for this week. Also review grammar, sentence structure and punctuation rules.

4. Complete the practice ACT English section towards the end of the week. For a little fun, complete a crossword puzzle, play Scrabble with friends, or download a word game app. Find the meanings of each word and how they are used in a sentence.

5. Complete your fourth full-length test this week. By now you should start seeing some improvement. If your scores don’t improve this time, don’t worry—some tests are more difficult than others. Instead, focus on perfecting your pace and continuing to review your answers.

Week 5

1. Start out with your flashcards, and read over the essay portion criteria for your exam. Memorize what it takes to make a high score by writing short bullet points of the description each day.

2. Practice reading essay prompts and organizing your essay in 5-8 minutes to give you some extra writing time. Start each paper with an engaging introduction, thesis statement and supporting paragraphs, followed by addressing any opposition, verifying why your view is better and ending with a strong conclusion. The typical essay has five paragraphs, so practice organizing your thoughts in that order.

3. Read over common transitions and sentence variations to make your essay flow smoothly and sound less repetitive.

4. Ask your English teacher to read over your practice essays and let you know if there are any areas you should work on. Try to complete at least three practice essays.

5. Take a break from the full exam and instead research examples of past essays on the Internet or in your test booklet. Most likely, the essays are from past high school students that are now used for educational purposes. Read their papers as if you are a judge, and mark where you see each scoring requirement.

Week 6

1. In the final week of your standardized test study schedule,you should review the science section for the ACT or go back to another SAT section. Practice random vocabulary or sentence completion questions as if you are taking the real test, instead of your flashcards.

2. The Science section is similar to the reading portion, but requires more reasoning and interpretation. You won’t be asked to complete any chemical formulas or to recall any science history. The facts you will need are in the passage, so use the reading and writing skills you’ve already been practicing to help you solve each problem.

3. Complete another practice exam for the section you are studying, and go over your answers. If your exam is at the end of this week, do one final full-length test. If you have some extra time, complete one extra section test and one full-length test.

4. Review the multiple choice test strategies you went over in Week 1 to refresh your memory. Since you are closer to test time, these tips are important to remember.

5. Don’t do any last-minute study sessions this week. If you’ve been keeping up with your schedule, you should be on the right track to a good score. Do something you enjoy to get your mind off of all the studying you’ve been doing to relax before test day. Even though your schedule is a little lighter, make sure to get a good night’s rest the night before your test.

If you feel it may be hard to follow this study guide in six weeks because of your other responsibilities, you should plan for 2-3 months of study preparation. The more time you give yourself, the more successful you will be on your college admission exams. Start planning now to increase your score chances and impress your school.

Creating a Study Schedule for Standardized Tests

Many students stress when it comes to test taking, so if that sounds like you, you’re not alone. Standardized tests are an important part of getting into your dream school. Luckily, there is a helpful schedule to drive you in the right direction to achieve your highest score. With the last few test dates approaching in April, May and June, here are some helpful study tips for standardized tests. 

When it comes to any test, procrastination is not your friend. It is best to stay on top of your studying and prevent your workload from building up. This build up is what leads to stress overload and many students will give up at this point. You can master any standardized test by starting early and committing to your study schedule. At least eight weeks is the recommended time to spend studying for any standardized test. The worst thing you can do is to wait until the last minute! No amount of “all nighters” will ever prepare you for a standardized test.

Getting Started

In the early weeks of your study schedule, have all your materials ordered and ready. Many students find it helpful to start by taking the practice tests or enrolling in a prep class. This will get you ahead of the game and headed in the right direction towards success in any standardized test. Other students will try “self-taught” methods and enjoy using test prep books with strategies to mastering standardized tests.

Schedule Your Time

Next, make your personalized study schedule. Time management is one quality all college students need to perfect. So now is the time to learn your study style and what works best for you. All students have busy schedules so it’s smart to start by recognizing when you have free time between school and extracurricular activities. This is the time you can allot to studying. Be dedicated to your study schedule and don’t slack off. If you have a set study schedule it is easy to stay on track and stick to it.

Mastering Your Material

As the weeks go on, recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Begin your scheduled study time with your weakest subject and spend more time familiarizing yourself with its material. Take multiple practice tests to prepare yourself for similar questions and to know what to expect in each section. Then review any questions you missed to identify corrections. For example, index cards are great for vocabulary words and trouble topics you run into.

Get someone to Quiz You

Know you’re not alone. Finding a study group is great for sharing practice problems and study tips. You can quiz each other and take advantage of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Have other friends and family members quiz you as well. The more you review the more you will know on test day.

Test Day

The day has finally arrived – you either know it or you don’t. Remember, cramming will not help you, so give your brain a break. Get a good night of sleep the night before and eat a healthy breakfast. Don’t forget your testing materials: calculator, pencils, photo ID, watch and test registration.

Don’t Stress

This sounds a lot easier than it is when it comes to the big day. But fortunately for you, you can always retake a standardized test. If you don’t like your first score, know you can always retake it later and replace your score with a better one.

Information and registration dates for the SAT can be found here. ACT information and test dates can be found here.