About Preparation Courses for Admission Tests

Many of the professional programs require admissions test scores as part of the assessment process. To prepare for these tests, many students take prep courses. Some say it helps and some say it doesn’t. You might ask yourself the following questions when trying to decide whether or not you need to take one.

1. (a) Do you prefer learning in a classroom setting, or
    (b) Do you learn better on your own?

2. (a) Is self-discipline a strength of yours and are you confident that you will take time to  prepare, or
    (b) Do you have so many demands on your time that the structure of knowing that a course is  being offered on a certain date and time could increase your chances of taking the time to prepare?

3. (a) From your past experience with multiple choice exams, have you found that this format is an advantage to you, or
    (b) makes it more difficult for you?

4. (a) Does writing under the pressure of time make you more effective, or
    (b) less effective?

5. (a) Do you feel quite confident about your ability to succeed on the test, or
    (b) are you apprehensive and feel a prep course would make you more confident?

If you tend to answer “a” most of the time, taking a preparation course might not be an advantage for you. However, if you tend towards “b,” maybe you should consider it. The decision is yours.

Preparing for Admissions Tests

Besides taking a prep course, there are several ways you can prepare. Find out how the professional schools you are applying to use the admissions test score. What weight do they assign it? Do not overemphasize a test they do not emphasize. How do they treat multiple scores if you retake the test? (Some schools take the highest score and some use an average.)

Read the test’s information booklet carefully. If you are not confident you wrote to your ability, a score can be cancelled or a test retaken, but the regulations for that test must be followed precisely. Use the sample questions in the information booklet to familiarize yourself with the types of questions. Practice as much as you can. Aptitude tests can’t be studied for, but you can be familiar with the type of questions and learn to pace yourself under the test’s time constraints.

Anticipate the stress involved in preparing for and taking the test. Ensure you are taking the test at a time when you are less stressed than usual. Highly knowledgeable, highly prepared, burnt-out people do not write good tests.

The point of taking a test is not to achieve as close to a perfect score as possible. This attitude will increase your anxiety and keep you from achieving the best score you can. Accept that you are a human being and human beings get answers wrong. Then you can set the realistic goal of achieving a high enough score that your application will not be rejected based on that score.

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