How to Make Studying for Standardized Tests Fun

High School Student

Believe it or not, there is such thing as fun test prep, just like these activities. Because this "studying" definitely doesn't feel like studying.

A particular phenomenon happens when you sit down at your desk to study for a test: everything around you suddenly becomes interesting. Where does that tiny hole in the wall lead? When did my nails get so long? Don’t the patterns on the ceiling look like stars?! When it comes to studying for tests, everything but studying sounds entertaining.

Fortunately, gluing your bottom to a chair, endlessly staring into textbooks, bored out of your mind isn’t the only way to study. Believe it or not, there is such thing as fun test prep, and below is a list of those wonderful activities:

Reading for pleasure

This is a classic. Whether you like Sherlock Holmes or Hazel Grace Lancaster, Suzanne Collins or Shakespeare, historical fiction or teenage romance novels, reading engages you in intellectual thoughts, improves your vocabulary, and, overall, makes you a better critical thinker. The sleepless nights you spend indulging in your favorite books will ultimately help you perform better on tests by increasing your reading speed, vocab, and comprehension. All you have to do is pick up any book from a library! Many graphic novels even contain sophisticated vocabularies that can bolster your eloquence. These reading skills will become second nature as you enjoy your bedtime stories.

Writing to get the words out—a.ka. word vomit

The most effective way to strengthen your writing, of course, is to write. Essays might not be your passion, understandably, but writing encompasses a broad range of genres, from journals and letters to narratives and poetry. To become a better writer, writing to get the words out of your brain is a fine process. Just write for the sake of writing, for your eyes only. If you are having a tough day, take a moment to express your feeling through ink on paper—ranting helps you develop emotions in your writing. The more effectively you can access your own pathos, the stronger you commentaries and essays will be in general.

Studying with friends

Any pain is easier to endure when you have your friends by your side. In fact, studying in a group with fellow test takers usually spurs creative learning strategies. For example, Katharine Lee, a junior at West High, participates in the school’s intensive Academic Decathlon program. When the competition season approaches, she must stay after school every day for five hours, during which she crams in an overwhelming load of information. Those five hours could feel like an eternity of boredom, but Katharine prudently spends the time studying with her friends. “To memorize the order of ancient civilizations in Mesopotamia, we came up with the acronym SAGSBAB, which stands for Sumer, Akkadia, Guti, Neo-Sumer, Babylonia, Assyria, and Neo-Babylonia,” she cheerfully describes. Learning facts like the names of historical civilizations can be tedious and annoying, but with creative study buddies, even memorization can become an amusing task.

Watching educational YouYube videos

The temptations of YouTube can be difficult to overcome, especially compared to that pile of textbooks waiting on your desk. Even for the most diligent students, YouTube is dangerous. It begins with one short music video, but before you know it, you are three hours into watching grumpy cats hula dancing on a rainbow bridge. Despite such risks, YouTube also contains numerous educational videos fully intended to supplement your learning. Take “Crash Course” for example. The two brilliant and funny Green brothers provide quick 10-minute lessons on various subjects, including chemistry, world history, psychology, and literature. Even better, in early 2015, “Crash Course” partnered up with PBS Digital Studios to expand their selections; they now offer extremely educational—but nonetheless entertaining—videos on U.S. government and politics, economics, and astronomy. Take a “break” from intense hours of studying by watching these delightfully didactic videos.


Merriam-Webster might disagree, but the words “study” and “play” can actually be synonyms—that is, if you decide to enhance your learning by playing games. You can fit in many online games to your study plan whenever you have five or 10 minutes to spare. No need to look hard; CollegeXpress offers an enjoyable SAT word game that you can play to test and expand your knowledge of vocabulary. For each definition you correctly match to the word, you receive a point, and the more words you get right, the more streaks you can earn and get closer to joining the scoreboard! Similarly, other sites such as Quizlet allow you to review vocabulary, concepts, and facts by playing simple, interesting study games.

With these test preps, you can kill two birds with one stone: ace your tests by having fun! Then, of course, you will be having fun acing your tests.

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