4 Benefits to Taking a Practice Test Before an Exam

Exams, though meant to challenge your skill set and prove knowledge, always generate some level of anxiety. It’s natural to consider exams (and their administrators) enemies to your progress, but tests are actually excellent opportunities to show off your hard work.

Taking practice exams can ease uncertainty and highlight areas where you may need further support. It’s better to find out your weaknesses in a trial run than on test day, so practicing gives you an understanding of test layout and more—read on to see why it’s worth adding practice tests to your study routine.

Calms Your Nerves

Practice exams provide a feel for the test’s overall structure. Friends and classmates might share their exam experiences, but seeing the test yourself eases fears since you’re not dealing with the unknown. For those of you who have been studying for weeks or months, you may get a confidence boost if you score well on a practice exam.

Guides Studying Strategies

Even self-assured students suffer from knowledge gaps. Practicing an exam reveals areas of weakness, giving you time to seek tutoring or assistance from professors. Other tests may disallow calculators, forcing you to remember complex mathematical equations and other formulas. If you’re unable to recall these during a practice exam, you may need more study time. Also, some practice tests are scored instantly, so you can brush up on tough stuff right away.

Establishes Test Pacing

Nearly all exams are timed. A “test rehearsal” will help set your pace and make sure you have enough time to complete any essay responses, work through complicated formulas, and balance timing between challenging multiple choice questions.

Improves Test-Taking Skills

Taking an exam is more than memorizing facts and data and then regurgitating it onto a screen or piece of paper. Certain question types—like multiple choice—require strategic planning if you don’t know the answer, such as narrowing down unlikely responses from a list of possibilities. Others, like open-ended questions, ask you to quickly form an argument and write a well-written, coherent response. These skills take time to develop and if you’re unable to think rapidly, your performance may suffer.

Practice exams aren’t necessary, but successful students perform trial runs of tests, as it improves focus and provides reassurance regarding performance. You’ll also find yourself rearranging your schedule to accommodate studying, an instant value-add to your overall academic or job (if you’re taking an exam as part of an employment requirement) performance. Work in a practice exam before your next test and you’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll score during the real thing.

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