When you think about getting ready for your test, think of it like learning an instrument, learning how to cook a new dish, or learning your lines in a play.  Or you can think of it like a marathon. Runners who start well before the date of a marathon don’t start by running 26 miles. They run easily, and for short distances, only increasing intensity as their legs get into shape.


The sooner you get familiar with your test, the less you’ll have to stress and cram as the deadline gets closer.


In fact, if you aren’t back in school yet, and you haven’t already started getting to know your test, this is a great time to start. This is the time you can focus on what the test looks like without having to worry about the workload from school. Most standardized tests won’t test you on any topic that you don’t already know about. But the first time most people see their test, it’s usually a big surprise.


And you want to get the surprises out of the way now, and not while the clock is running on the real thing.


You’ll probably find out that you don’t want to attack the test the same way you attack your homework or classwork. You’ll pick up more points if you know how to take a test.


Start your test practice early, and you can practice lightly, and begin getting used to the test in small doses. At first, spend anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour a day. And if you start early enough, a few missed practices won’t hurt your progress. Start by getting familiar with the material the test covers, and finding the best way to deal with the unusual ways in which the questions are asked.


The earlier you start, the earlier your test tactics will become second nature. When that happens, you waste a lot less time in confusion, and use a lot more time picking up points quickly.