SAT subject tests are notorious for having tricky and long questions. Anyone who has taken a standardized test can attribute it to the necessity for preparation. You have decided you will be taking the exam because one of the colleges you are applying to is requiring or strongly suggests you submit your scores for subject tests relevant to your proposed major. Another reason you might be taking the test is that you want to demonstrate your competency to the admissions staff. There are SAT World History Study guides, practice tests, tutors, and books all vying for your attention saying each one is the best method to prepare for the official exam. Ultimately, you should choose the method by which you best learn. At the same time, there are many common mistakes students make when preparing for the exam that can and should be avoided.

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Using your booklet to rewrite the questions can help you better understand what they are asking.  (Photo by Iñaki del Olmo on Upsplash)
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How to Qualify a Practice Test and Where to Find Them

More is always better when it comes to practice tests. You can’t study too much or learn the test too well. Instead, think about qualifying the practice test based on who there are coming from. It is recommended to only use official practice tests from accredited sources simply because they will be the best representation of what you will see on the real exam. There are other tests that will look similar but the real value in the accredited tests is learning how the questions are worded and seeing what kinds of images and diagrams are used. There are a couple of companies that are endorsed by the College Board such as Kaplan or the Princeton Review. These are among the best resources for finding study materials.

A big mistake many people make when they are starting out is not developing a study schedule or program of materials to focus on. Considering your schedule and daily habits is likely jam-packed already, search for a period of time each day that you can block out for studying only. Find a place whether it is a room in your house, the library, your grandma’s basement as long as it is quiet with as few distractions as possible. Once you found the right place, go there each time and get to it. Start learning the subjects you will be tested on. Go through a couple of practice tests to see how you do. If you find yourself mentally exhausted already just from the studying itself, you can reach out to the tutors at Kaplan or other tutoring organizations and they will generally offer to help organize everything for you. They can lay out the most effective materials to study and they can help you select times of day to study. Getting all the planning out of the way early on allows you to focus on the important aspects of studying and preparing for the test effectively.

Perfectly mowed grass in front of a school
You can use the World History subject test to demonstrate your abilities to admissions staff.  (Photo by Vadim Sherbakov on Upsplash)

What Can Make Studying Easier?

The easier you make it to take some time out of your day to just sit and review the materials, the more often you will do it. After that, your next step should be to decide on the materials you want to use. Selecting the wrong practice tests will make your preparations less effective. You could be studying the wrong material or preparing for historical periods that will not be discussed on the exam. The College Board puts out study guides every year for their new and updated subject tests. Since they are the company designing the official exam, their study guides will be the best representation of accurately worded questions. The same goes for the diagrams they will use. In addition to the study guide, flashcards are a fantastic method of learning facts and phrases about a specific period or era in history. Plus since they are mobile-friendly, you can learn anywhere you go.

Quizlet is a prime example of an easy, cross-platform, app that makes designing, organizing, and then quizzing you on the flashcards super simple. Here you can make different groups of flashcards for each period in history. Then you can further subdivide those into regions of the world. Repeatedly seeing the important information and reciting it back to yourself allows for stronger ties to memory. The app will automatically rearrange the cards so they will be in a new order which confirms you are actually learning the material instead of just memorizing the location of the card in the stack.

Focusing solely on one medium of information leaves you unbalanced in your understanding. Even though the internet has made everything easier and cheaper, books remain an effective way of studying and gathering information. There is something special about books that makes them easier to remember than on the internet, picturing where the important paragraph was on the pages allows for better recall as well. Incorporating as many senses into the process of learning will help you retain and actively use the information you are gathering. When the right question is asked, you will know the answer almost naturally.

Classical books protected behind glass
Don't leave the books on the shelf. Using various study materials will improve your understanding.  (Photo by Clarisse Meyeron Upsplash)

A Practice Test Can Be Misused

There are many ways a practice test can be used incorrectly. Research has shown that the location in which learning takes place has an effect on the recall of that information. For this reason, studying in a room or space that will be similar to the room you will take the exam should help you feel more at ease as well as allow you to recall the information more accurately. Timing is a component as well. Since you will only have 60 minutes to fill out all the questions, time management is important to consider. It is recommended that you should spend no more than 30 seconds on each question. If one is more challenging, skip it and return after you have answered the other questions.

Another mistake many people make is guessing on a question. Normally, it's ok to guess because, on the other tests, there are no deductions for wrong answers. The World History Subject Test is different in that they remove a quarter-point for every incorrect answer. For this reason, it is better to first answer the ones you know then go back and for each multiple-choice question, consider all the answers. If you can’t find one that fits, just leave it blank.

Why You Should Practice Test-Taking Strategies

Students miss out on a lot of points if they aren’t using strategy in their methods of attack. Multiple-choice tests are testing your knowledge but they are also a game of probability. On any given question, you have one in four or one in five odds of selecting the correct answer. The best way to increase your probability of choosing the right one is by eliminating the answers you know are incorrect. This paradigm shift will narrow down your selection of possible answers and therefore increase your odds of choosing the right one. This also takes away a lot of the guessing that would otherwise take place.

Not using your exam booklet for notes is another missed opportunity for many test-takers. The SAT World History Subject Test will have questions and diagrams to choose from. You can use this booklet to rewrite the questions and make them more understandable for you. These prompts are known for being overly wordy and putting in extraneous information that is deliberately placed to confuse you. By rewriting the question, you are distilling it down to the essentials and can focus on the problem at hand without getting misdirected.

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