5 Ways to Ace All Your Standardized Tests This Year

Here's a list of standardized test tips so you can ace them without reading all those larger-than-life prep books. Unless, of course, you really want to read them. No judgment.

Standardized tests. They hang over your head like a raincloud that won’t go away. They have the ability to bring tears of frustration and maybe a few excited butterflies. But for most students, it’s mostly lost sleep, apprehension, and maybe a little procrastination. After all, you’re a student, which translates to “always busy.” The last thing you want to do with your precious down time is read a 2,000-page SAT prep book. And how do you even remember that much stuff anyway?

Thankfully, if you’re prepared in advance, you don’t have to worry so much, and that raincloud overhead will float away. Here’s a list of the top standardized test prep tips so you can ace your tests without reading all those larger-than-life books. Unless, of course, you really do want to read them. No judgment.

1. Start early

All-night cramming sessions aren’t fun, and they really aren’t effective—especially if they’re your only test-prep strategy. Thankfully, the sooner you start preparing for your tests, the less you will have to do each session. So instead of doing 300 practice problems the night before a test, why not try doing one or two a day for the months leading up to it? While this may require a little advanced planning, it leaves you ultimately more in control of your test score. When you prepare early, you have less stress and the confidence in yourself to know you did everything you can. After all, slow and steady wins this race too.

2. Use a variety of resources

Everyone has a different learning style, and every test preparation resource has different insights. Tapping into a variety of resources and learning in new ways give you a well-rounded studying experience. If you're a visual learner, try using books from a variety of publications. Auditory learners may benefit from audio books or educational videos. Hands-on learners can try using test prep games or apps. Don't limit yourself to one study tool! Think outside the box and you may be pleasantly surprised by how much you enjoy your test prep—and your test score.

3. Learn test-taking strategies and tricks

We've all heard of them, those little tricks that help you ace your tests: Chew one flavor of gum while you study and the same during the test to help you recall facts. Simulate your testing environment while studying. Guess C on multiple-choice questions if you're truly at a loss. Color-code your notes to improve memory. While these tricks alone won’t magically give you a perfect score on your tests, they may improve your information retention and testing success.

Related: Study Hard or Study Smart? Common Mistakes When Preparing for the SAT

4. Treat test day like a normal day

I'm not going to tell you what to eat for breakfast. I'm not going to tell you exactly how many hours to sleep the night before. The most important thing on test day is to do what makes you feel comfortable. Trying a new superfood breakfast is more likely to stress you out (especially if it's time consuming or tastes awful). Going to bed five hours earlier than usual might leave you tossing and turning during that time. Instead, eat your favorite quick and easy breakfast, and go to bed at a reasonable time. It will reduce stress levels enormously if test day feels like just another school day. Being relaxed and prepared is more beneficial than trying to implement a completely new routine.

5. Take the test at your own pace

It's hard enough to stay focused on any one task for two hours, and it’s easy to get distracted by the clock. Nothing will cost you precious time or leave you feeling frazzled quite like checking the clock every 30 seconds. Instead, try to relax and find a good pace for completing your exam. Take the questions at your own pace. If you know you can figure a problem out, it's okay to spend a little more time on it. If you’re really struggling, feel free to skip it and try to come back later, or guess if your test doesn't have a penalty. Let time be on your side instead of losing focus or counting down the minutes.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

act ACT prep sat SAT prep standardized test standardized tests test prep

About Sophia Skwarchuk

Sophia Skwarchuk is a junior at Flathead High School in Kalispell, Montana. She is an active participant in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Model United Nations, track, and cross-country. She is Vice President of her school's National Honor Society chapter and volunteers weekly for Big Brothers Big Sisters. When she isn't busy pursuing her academic studies and extracurricular interests, she enjoys dabbling in the culinary arts and writing short stories.


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Anthony Vidal

Anthony Vidal

High School Class of 2023

CollegeXpress has helped me in a series of different ways when it comes to finding scholarships and learning information about different universities. I actually found my dream university through CollegeXpress and am working on getting there.

Rhiannon Teeter

Rhiannon Teeter

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2012

I have spent a lot of time aggressively searching for scholarships. It was a long and frustrating process until I found the CollegeXpress network. This site made my search so much easier. With the simple check of a few boxes, the site sorted out scholarships I was eligible for and led me directly to the correct websites. Winning this scholarship has definitely given me and my family some financial relief, and CollegeXpress has allowed me to improve my chances of winning further financial aid. Thank you so much!

Jessica Rinker

Jessica Rinker

Student, Fairhaven High School; CollegeXpress Student Writer

My high school counselor introduced me to CollegeXpress freshman year. It has made such a difference in high school, and I plan to continue relying on it in college. CollegeXpress is my go-to because it addresses each aspect of being a student. There are the articles you’d expect regarding college applications and financial aid, but you will also find advice on things like de-stressing and maintaining relationships while balancing a heavy course load. CollegeXpress will also keep you updated on current scholarships through e-mails each Saturday. (They don’t harass you with any product promotion like so many other sites do.) CollegeXpress is a lot like an older sibling who has already conquered the challenges you are facing. Now, they are reaching out a helpful hand. I say take it.

Heather McCarty

Heather McCarty

High School Class of 2020

CollegeXpress has helped me with the college application process. The tips and tricks for important essays were so helpful. I also gained useful knowledge about college life. Even though I’m fully online, CollegeXpress has helped me develop a sense of how college is in person. The experiences from college students that were featured on their Instagram page have shown the good, the bad, and the “secret” life on campus from a reliable perspective. Not to mention, they relieved my feelings of anxiety about the workload. I can now understand how it can be stressful, but it takes self-control and willpower to get assignments completed on time and with quality.

Fabiola Rodriguez

Fabiola Rodriguez

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped me on my journey to get to the school of my first choice by showing me all the options I have. I didn’t know of the College of Southern Nevada until I went on this website, and it helped me look for other choices and compare what colleges would be right for me.

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

SUNY Oneonta

Oneonta, NY

Texas Wesleyan University

Fort Worth, TX