Ideally, your first diagnostic test would be your lowest. You’d make steady progress, a point every week or so, until your last PrepTest, which would be your highest yet. 3 weeks later, your official score comes back — your highest yet!
This is indeed ideal, but almost never the case. I have seen many, many students get derailed when they see a tiny dip in scores late in the study process. Everyone has a score range with high and low outliers; when low outliers pop up the week before the test, it can throw a wrench in your confidence.
Here’s how to address a low PrepTest score near your test date.
- Realize that your official score will not equal your best PrepTest. Generally, if your official score falls near the average of your last 3 PrepTests you should be satisfied. Everyone has outliers, high and low.
- Do not go crazy with studying. Really. Your ability to learn more test week by cramming is very low. Your ability to stress out by doing test after test is high. Study the week before the test needs to be light; don’t add more because of a bad test.
- Refocus. Your low score represents an opportunity for you to address a few final weaknesses before the test itself. Take advantage of this time to learn from your PrepTest practice.
- Understand your stress level. It’s natural to put more pressure on yourself as the test approaches. Unfortunately, this pressure often lowers performance. Use this as a learning opportunity — stress on test day will be even higher, so it’s helpful to understand how you’ll respond. Have a plan to manage stress on Test week.
- Have faith in averages. Rationally, you know that your low score will probably not represent your actual performance. Psychologically this is hard to internalize, but just remember you’ve done all you could to prepare (through tutoring or self-study). Be confident!