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Analyzing Your Post-Practice Test Performance
Please Note:
The last administration of the SAT II Writing was on 1/22/05. Beginning 3/12/05, parts of the SAT II Writing test will be included in the New SAT. You should be studying the New SAT book. Go there!
Analyzing Your Post-Practice Test Performance
Sometimes you’ll answer a question wrong not because you weren’t paying attention, and not because you were rushing, but because, as in the example above, you truly didn’t understand the material being tested. When you are checking over your practice test, it’s crucial to figure out why you got wrong what you got wrong. It’s a bad idea to simply see that you got an answer wrong and continue on your merry way. It’s a good idea to do what the hypothetical you did when faced with question number 10: go back to the question and figure out why you got it wrong, and what you need to know to get it right.
Skeptical readers might say, “Sure, but I’ll never see that question again. I’ll never have to examine that sentence about the rude moviegoer on the real SAT II Writing, so isn’t figuring out my mistake a waste of time?”
No! It’s definitely not a waste of time. The reason: if you take the time to learn why you got a question wrong, and to learn the material you need to know to get it right, you’ll probably remember what you’ve learned the next time you’re faced with a similar question. And chances are excellent that you will be faced with a similar question. Sure, you won’t see exactly the same sentences you saw on the practice test, but you’ll see sentences that test exactly the same rules. Learn the rules when you’re checking your practice tests, and you’ll remember the rules when you’re taking the real thing.
But What if I Get a Lot of Questions Wrong on the Practice Test?
What if you take a practice test and get a whole bunch of questions wrong, and it turns out you’re shaky not just on pronoun rules, but on parallelism and run-on sentences and tense errors and misplaced modifiers? Instead of throwing up your hands in despair and flopping down on the couch to watch TV, make yourself identify all of the questions you got wrong, figure out why you got them wrong, and then teach yourself what you should have done to get these questions right. If you can’t figure out your error, find someone who can. Study your completed practice test.
Think about it. What does an incorrect answer mean? That wrong answer identifies a weakness in your test taking, whether that weakness is an unfamiliarity with a particular topic or a tendency to be careless. If you got fifteen questions wrong on a practice test, then each of those fifteen questions identifies a weakness in your knowledge about the topics the SAT II Writing tests. But as you study each question and figure out why you got that question wrong, you are actually learning how to answer the very questions that will appear, in similar form, on the real SAT II Writing. You are discovering your SAT II Writing weaknesses and addressing them, and you are learning to understand not just the knowledge behind the question, but the way that ETS asks its questions as well.
True, if you got fifteen questions wrong, the first time you study your test will take quite a bit of time. But if you invest that time and study your practice test properly, you will be eliminating future mistakes. Each successive practice test you take should have fewer errors, meaning you’ll need to spend less time studying those errors. Also, and more important, you’ll be pinpointing what you need to study for the real SAT II Writing, identifying and overcoming your weaknesses, and learning to answer an increasing variety of questions on the specific topics covered by the test. Taking practice tests and studying them will allow you to teach yourself how to recognize and handle whatever the SAT II Writing has to throw at you.
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