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College 101

Are You Terrible at Taking Standardized Tests?
Article Type: Panic Button

As mentioned above, the three most recognized and common standardized tests are the PSAT, SAT, and ACT. These exams aren't the be-all and end-all of life, but if you're MIA for one of 'em, your college career could be a struggle before it even begins.

These tests are like psychic friends designed to predict your abilities to succeed in college or university. The PSAT serves as kind of a practice round, the SAT is meant to test your problem solving real-world skills, and the ACT is designed to test your general college readiness. So, let’s say you’ve practiced, you have impressive reasoning skills, a flawless complexion, washboard abs, and you've taken advanced courses and mastered all of the content in them...but you're still having trouble with standardized tests for some reason unknown to you. Is it time to throw in the towel and prepare for a career as a gas station attendant?

Sometimes standardized testing just makes us feel like that. And this:

"It's okay. It's okay."


Five Things To Do After You Bomb a Standardized Test

1. Remember that your standardized test scores are only one part of your college application.

You'll have other opportunities to dazzle those college admissions officers (who, by the way, are well aware that many outstanding applicants may not be good test-takers).

2. Understand where and why it went wrong. 

The first step to improving your score is to recognize your weaknesses. It doesn’t have to be ugly, like a plastic surgeon circling all your flaws with a red Sharpie. You just need to take a good, honest look at your strengths and your shortcomings.

3. Practice and prepare. 

Just like fire juggling, magic tricks, or beating your own high score in Pac-Man, taking tests is a skill that can be improved with practice and preparation. How can you make this happen? Use our diagnostic exams to help you figure out where you need to improve, and get to work with Shmoop Test Prep.

4. Take advantage of accommodations if you have a learning disability. 

Have you ever had an Individual Education Plan at your school? Have you been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, Anxiety, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, or Dyspepsia? The good news: if you have Dyspepsia, you just need some Pepto-Bismol...and a doctor who knows that indigestion doesn't qualify as a learning challenge.

5. Examine college admissions requirements. 

Ever heard of a Testing Optional School? If you regularly crash and burn on standardized tests, then look into these colleges. They're dedicated to making standardized test scores an optional part of the application process, and it may be worth your time to check a few of them out.

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