Studying Your Practice Test
Studying Your Practice Test
After grading your test, you should have a list of the questions you answered incorrectly and skipped. Studying your test involves going through this list and examining each question you answered incorrectly. When you look at each question, you shouldn’t just look to see what the correct answer is, but rather why you got the question wrong and how you could have gotten the question right. Train yourself in the process of getting the question right.
Why Did You Get the Question Wrong?
There are three main reasons why you might have gotten an individual question wrong.
  • Reason 1: You thought you knew the answer, but actually you didn’t.
  • Reason 2: You managed to eliminate some answer choices and then guessed among the remaining answers. Sadly, you guessed wrong.
  • Reason 3: You knew the answer but made a careless mistake.
You should know which of these reasons applies to every question you got wrong.
What Could You Have Done to Get the Question Right?
The reasons you got a question wrong affect how you should think about it while studying your test.
If You Got a Question Wrong for Reason 1, Lack of Knowledge
A question answered incorrectly for Reason 1 identifies a weakness in your knowledge of the material tested on SAT II Math IC. Discovering this wrong answer gives you an opportunity to target your weakness. When addressing that weakness, make sure that you don’t just look at the facts.
For example, if you missed a question about factoring quadratic equations, don’t just memorize the roots of certain equations. Learn the fundamental techniques that make different quadratics result in different roots. Remember, you won’t see a question exactly like the one you got wrong. But you probably will see a question that covers the same topic. Learn the broader topic of which the question tests only a piece.
If You Got a Question Wrong for Reason 2, Guessing Wrong
If you guessed wrong, review your guessing strategy. Did you guess intelligently? Could you have eliminated more answers? If yes, why didn’t you? By thinking in this critical way about the decisions you made while taking the practice test, you can train yourself to make quicker, more decisive, and better decisions.
If you took a guess and chose the incorrect answer, don’t let that sour you on guessing. Even as you go over the question and figure out if there was any way for you to have answered the question without having to guess, remind yourself that if you eliminated at least one answer and guessed, even if you got the question wrong you followed the right strategy.
If You Got a Question Wrong for Reason 3, Carelessness
If you discover you got a question wrong because you were careless, it might be tempting to say to yourself, “Oh, I made a careless error,” and assure yourself you won’t do that again. That is not enough. You made that careless mistake for a reason, and you should try to figure out why. Whereas getting a question wrong because you didn’t know the answer constitutes a weakness in your knowledge of the test subject, making a careless mistake represents a weakness in your method of taking the test.
To overcome this weakness, you need to approach it in the same critical way you would approach a lack of knowledge. Study your mistake. Reenact your thought process on the problem and see where and how your carelessness came about: were you rushing? Did you jump at the first answer that seemed right instead of reading all the answers? Know your error and look it in the eye. If you learn precisely what your mistake was, you are much less likely to make that mistake again.
If You Left the Question Blank
It is also a good idea to study the questions you left blank on the test, since those questions constitute a reservoir of lost points. A blank answer is a result of either:
  1. Total inability to answer a question
  2. Lack of time
In the case of the first possibility, you should see if there was some way you might have been able to eliminate an answer choice or two and put yourself in a better position to guess. In the second case, look over the question and see whether you think you could have answered it. If you could have, then you know that you are throwing away points by working too slowly. If you couldn’t, study the relevant material and review your guessing strategy.
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