Q. How long will it take me to prepare for my test?
The honest answer is that, it depends on you. The minimum time to prepare for a test, whether it is MCAT, LSAT, GMAT, GRE, or any other standardized test, ranges between a week to two weeks. The MCAT, even though it has more content that needs to be internalized and memorized has been and can be done within two weeks of intense studying – that’s right! The upper range for these tests is maximally two months; if you’re taking more time, then our philosophy is that you’re not studying the right way.
So, how does your prep. time depend on you? The more time you put into your preparation per day, and the more attentive you are, the faster you’ll get to your perfect score.
Q. When should I book my test date?
If you’re starting your preparation, or thinking of starting it, then don’t focus on your test date; focus on your preparation. We’ve seen hordes of students sign up for their test dates before they start studying, only to realize on the day before their test that they could’ve used an extra week to prepare.
99point9’s courses are geared at giving you the bestchance to get into the professional schools of your choice, and this means signing up for your test date when you’re ready to kill your exam. It is pretty intuitive that when our students see the light at the end of the tunnel, almost three weeks before they complete their course, they book their test date. After there are fully prepared, they use the extra time finding content holes or skill gaps that they might’ve missed during the prep., as well studying under test conditions. Not surprisingly, students who do this take the test once and can focus on the next step of their applications.
Some students are concerned that the seats for the test they’re signing up for may fill-up. This is a valid concern, though, there is a work-around for this. We’ve seen that seats initially fill up, and then they re-appear days before the registration deadline because students drop out. It is recommended that you take advantage of this pattern, and days before the final registration date, check the registration availability 6-10 times a day. Ideally, you’d have the page logged into, and you refresh your screen every hour, or every time you’re on your computer.
In the event that you don’t find your preferable test date, and you must write your test by a certain date (e.g. if you’re an MCAT student and must write your test before September to apply for Canadian medical schools), then take the following approach. First, start studying a few months early so you’re not strapped for time at the end of your preparation. Second, if you must write your test by a certain date, in that event you may book the test early.
In any case, if you’re still uncertain, then reach out to your instructors and they can help you out with this.
Q. How many hours should I study per day?
We recommend that you free up as much time in a day as you can. The ideal student focusses on nothing but the test that they’re preparing for, and studies the whole day as if they’re already in the professional school they want to be in. This means that they fit everything other than studying around their preparation – including working out at the gym, running errands, and attending to their daily needs.
For example, the you may recognize that you’re keen on maintaining your work-life balance and that you must go to the gym every day. However, you also realize that if you go to the gym in the middle of the day then it may mess up your studying mindset, in that it takes you a few hours to back into studying, then you should go to the gym at the start of the day, or when you’re finished studying for the day (though, ideally, the latter because it has pleasant psychological effect that you’ve finished your tasks for the day).
This being said, you should study at least 5-6 hours a day and ideally, you’re putting in 10-14 hours – yes, that’s right. After all medical school, law school, business school, or wherever you’re aiming to go will be unforgiving if you don’t do your work. Build that habit now, and re-prioritize what’s important to you.
Q. I’m attending full-time school, undergraduate or graduate level. How do I make sure that I’m studying effectively?
Don’t worry! You’re not the only one going through this. However, your task will become hard, or even impossible, if you don’t have your priorities straight. So, that’s first thing: You need to re-evaluate what’s important in your life and how much time you actually have in a day to put towards your test.
Students are successful, when they have a single-minded focus on what they must achieve and what they’re setting out to do: ace their school and ace their test. They do this by staying on top of their school work as soon as it is assigned, and setting aside at least three to four full days, or equivalent time, to their test.
If you’re assigned a paper in school and it is due next month, then don’t put it off. Imagine that the paper is due in two days, and start cracking on it immediately and get it out of the day in that time. For the remainder of the time, you can revisit the paper to edit it but because you’ve already written it, you won’t be stressed and you’ll have time to prepare for your standardized test.
Similarly, if you have a test coming up next week, study for it either as soon as you find out that you have the test, or – even better – study for the test right after you’ve attended class, and review the content you’ve learned before the next class begins.
For example, if you have class at 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, then you on Monday – right after class – you should internalize, memorize and practice the concepts you’ve learned in class (it helps if you can convince yourself that you’ll be test on the content that evening). You’d do this from 12:10 p.m. to 2 p.m. for that class. Then, on Wednesday, before your 10 a.m. class, you should review the content perfectly (as if you have a test on it at 10 a.m.) as well as look over the slides for the upcoming class. This way, in class, you’re geared at learning and internalizing the concepts as you’re taught(no more procrastination!) and you can ask your professor questions right after class.
Take control of your schedule this way, and you should have the weekends and evenings free to prepare for your standardized test.
Q. I work full-time. How do I make sure that I’m studying effectively?
The answer to this is in-line with the previous question, so give the previous answer a read before proceeding.
Essentially, you have to take control of your life, and you have to be realistic about how much work you can do when you’re back from work. Simultaneously, you should continue to redefine your limits: if you can only study two hours after work, then push yourself to study three, and then the week after that, push yourself to study four hours, and so on.
It also depends the what kind of work you do, but if it is possible be proactive at work so you’re completing tasks fast, and that you’re foreseeing tasks that can come up. Reduce conflicts at work, and roll up your sleeves – there’s not time for drama in your life!
When you’re back from work, take half an hour to rest or to freshen up, and then get cracking! Most people return from work by 6 p.m., so get started by 6:30 p.m. Now, that you’ve started, make sure you’re not disturbed at all, and that you’re using the time to learn actively – understanding, internalizing, and memorizing concepts as you learn them (you have time to make review note), and applying these concepts to things you can relate to in your life and testing whether you know your content. Study like this until at least 11:30 p.m., or even past midnight (remind yourself – you’re aiming to go your ideal professional school to improve your life – so things won’t necessarily come easy).
Q. I’m a working mom, and I have a full-time job. How do I study effectively?
First of all, if you fall under this bucket then you’ve already earned our respect! We’ll even go out of our way to help you. This being said, you have to recognize that, at least given societal norms, studying for your test will be hard.
At the end of the day, you need to sit down and study, and do so for long hours. If you stretch out your preparation for months, and study 2-3 hours a day, then you’ll constantly keep pushing your test date, or you’ll get frustrated and will try to take the test before you’re ready.
How can you improve your situation? Find someone to help you out. You may have chores, from cooking food daily to taking care of your kids, and they take up your time. Talk to your family, and make them understand how important this is to you, and ask them to help you in your mission. If and when they agree to help, respect this help (though we shouldn’t need to tell you this!) by being laser-focussed and scalaply-precise in your studying; you have no room for error. If you don’t understand a concept, push yourself to get it immediately – pay attention to your lectures; Test yourself; Understand concepts right away; Practice those concepts immediately; Maybe, if possible, teach what you’ve learned to your kids – teaching is an excellent tool to internalize content.
Whatever happens, you can’t get frustrated. People, in your position, have done it. You’ve taken the bigger step deciding that you want to do better in life – now get to work and make it happen!
Q. What tricks can I use to study better?
There are no shortcuts when it comes down to studying. Many students trick out their study schedules, try to do multiple things at the same time, gather a ton of review content or study notes only, but this is rarely helpful. At the end of the day, you need to put in the time to study and you need to learn your content. Is it useful that you find flashcards online that go over concepts? Partially, but not necessarily. The underlying philosophy behind these notes is that definitions are important, or certain content is important, but that’s not true – you have to know all of your stuff and you can’t prioritize some content over other.
Are there exceptions to this rule? Certainly. But, if you’re thinking about exceptions then re-evaluate your mindset. To do extremely well, as opposed to just passing, you need to put the work in. Perhaps, you could make these notes after you’ve studied all the content and you have some time remaining after your test – but then again, if you’ve studied the right way, you don’t need flashcards; you should be so good at the content that you would be able to explain it to anyone anywhere regardless of the time.
Q. What study aids does 99point9 recommend that I use?
There is one study aid, which isn’t really a study aid but it’s useful to think of it this way, that supersedes anything that you can think of! Can you guess what it is?
Your brain. Imagine, if you trained your brain to be hyper-focussed for 10 straight hours; that you had all the content memorized; that you could connect concepts from across the different subjects and across chapters within a subject easily; that you could read so fast that time wasn’t an issue. You won’t need anything else!
How does one do that? Consistency, and pushing your limits. There is simply no room to procrastinate or to be idle in a day. Consistently, you’re reading things that are hard to understand at first, but when you do it often your brain tunes into that you can do it without getting strained. Consistently, you train your brain to learn the concepts immediately, and in a manner where you won’t forget it. Consistently, when you give up you tell yourself, “Not today!”, and you get back on the metaphorical horse. The outcome? You’ll become a mean lean test-taking machine!
Get into this habit, and you won’t ever think that you’re “bad at testing” or you need some trick to help you out.