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How To Choose The Right Test Date

Feb 10, 2008
Scoring well on popular college and graduate program admissions tests are essential for getting into your top choice college. If you are planning to take the SAT, ACT, GRE, or GMAT, consider your testing date very carefully. Believe it or not, choosing the right testing date can make or break your top score. As with any standardized test, strategy is everything. Here are some ideas for making the most of your testing date.

Preparation is everything. If you know how your particular test is structured, and the types of questions you are going to face, than you certainly have an advantage over those that don't. Make sure that you budget time to adequately prepare for this all important exam. Some students choose to study during the school year and take their test in the spring. Yet others prefer to study during the summer and take the test in the fall. Either preparation method is fine as long as you're ready to do your best by your scheduled test date. Be realistic about the amount of time you are willing to spend preparing and see it through.

Wait until you're ready. Each standardized tests measures the same aptitude and skills in the same way every time. Although questions themselves may be different, the content you need to know will be the same. There's really no point in taking a standardized test if you aren't prepared. If you're not ready, you won't do your best, and you'll probably want to take the test again anyway.

Coordinate your testing and application dates. Submitting your college or graduate program application is great, but most admission offices won't look at an application until it's complete. This means that your application has to include all required test scores. Getting your test scores in early is best. Taking the test in the fall is certainly one option, but there will be less risk of missing any deadlines if you take your test in the spring before you begin submitting applications.

Have a contingency plan. On the day of your exam, you might get sick. Or your car might break down. There are a lot of things that have nothing to do with your ability that could affect your test score. If your bad day happens on the last possible test date, you're out of luck, you have miss some important application deadlines or simply have to live with a bad test score. However, if you give yourself plenty of time and have another test date ahead of you, you will have another chance to prove your abilities. That's why it's best to take the test early rather than last minute.

One of the most frequently asked questions is whether or not you should take the test again if you get a bad score. Unless you earned the hard to attain, "perfect score", the possibility exists that you could do a little better next time. However, wanting a better score isn't necessarily a good basis for retaking the test. Consider the pros and cons associated with taking the test again. Factors to consider would be the added preparation time, new testing fee, and so on. Consider whether or not these factors are outweighed by a higher score before making your decision.

Achieving a good score on your standardized test of choice is important in the overall application process. Follow the tips outlined above to make sure you have chosen the best testing date to score your best.
About the Author
Michael Fleischner is the Managing Director or Peterson's, offering college planning and advice. For help with your college application essay or personal statement, visit http://www.essayedge.com
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