Get Over It and Go Over Your Mistakes!

 

The mistakes you make during test prep are a gift. They show you where you need to improve during practice, when it doesn’t matter, instead of on the actual test, when it does. A mistake is valuable information and the best thing you can do is examine and learn from it, and it’s totally normal to be frustrated by your errors. We all do it.

So mistakes are a gift, and examining them is uncomfortable, AND doing so is one of the best ways to get into your top-choice school. Think of it like taking medicine. You don’t take medicine because you love medicine. You take it to get better.

To be clear, I don’t mean briefly glance at the questions you missed on a mock exam and then never think about them again. I mean look at everything you missed, whether it’s from a mock exam, a homework assignment, or a practice section and honestly answer this question: if you saw this on a test tomorrow, would you absolutely get it right? If so, great, move on. If not, you know what to do.

The main reason for going over mistakes is that tests reuse questions. It’s hard to think of new ways to test semi-colon usage and the Pythagorean Theorem, so test makers plug in different words or numbers into a question and reuse it. Here’s an example from the SAT Writing and Language section:

The annual rainfall for the country of France ranges from 25 to 40 inches per year.
(A) NO CHANGE
(B) range from 25 to 40 inches per year.
(C) ranges from 25 to 40 inches each year.
(D) ranges from 25 to 40 inches.

The answer is (D). Answer choice (B) is wrong because the verb should be “ranges” and not “range.” Answer choices (A) and (C) are wrong because the sentence starts with “The annual rainfall,” so we don’t need “per year” or “each year” at the end. It’s a very tricky question, and this exact construction has shown up more than once on a released SAT exam, which means it’s a great question to dissect.

A side benefit of going over your early mistakes is you’ll see how far you’ve come in your prep. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize progress and seeing that you’ve improved is motivational and feels good. So, stop ignoring your mistakes and learn from them. The pain fades quickly and your score will go up. That’s absolutely worth a little discomfort.

To your success!

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