Study Smarter: The "Things To Remember" List

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My students who make the most astounding improvements on the SAT or ACT (or SAT 2 Subject tests) have one thing in common. And it didn’t come naturally for any of them at first. I had to coax it out of them and remind them to do it. But once my students adopt this habit, it soon becomes second nature...and then it becomes score-changing.

See, during the month before taking the SAT or ACT for real, any student I’m working with would take at least 2-3 mock tests, which is like taking a practice test, but under testing conditions. This step is so critical to raising a score that I wrote a whole blog post on mock testing.

And who has any common sense whatsoever probably knows she needs to then GO OVER said mock test to see what she got wrong.

This is where most students stop. And it’s costing them hundreds of questions and points.

My students don't stop there, though—which is one reason that they outperform their peers. The secret sauce I give my clients is so simple that I can’t believe I have to write about it. What is this magic tool or formula or really specific character trait?


It’s just a little exercise that I call "the Things-to-Remember List.”

It works for my students, and it can work for you. Here's how it goes:

1) After you go over your mock test and work through each problem, pull out a sheet of paper or a new Word or Pages document on your laptop.

2) Give each subject its own page or section. For the SAT, you’ll make a section for Reading, Writing, Math and the essay. For the ACT, you’ll make sections for English, Math, Reading, Science, and the essay.

3) Go through each question you missed on the mock test. For each question, ask yourself this: What was the one fact/rule/formula/thing that if only you had known or done, you would have gotten it right? For example, did you not answer the question asked, did you not distribute a negative, or did you just forget the formula for the Pythagorean Theorem?


5) Every time to you take another mock test, add to your “Things to Remember" List!

...that's it. Seriously. That's the magic formula.

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What’s magic about the “Things to Remember” List is that when you are done compiling all the facts, tips, and warnings to yourself, you have the most comprehensive, personalized, and efficient study guide available! It tells you what mistakes you personally are prone to making, and supplies the information you need to avoid them. It's a running log of exactly the things you need to succeed. 

If you then use this as your week-of study guide, you can’t help but improve. And if you continue to add to your “Things to Remember” List when you do another mock or practice test, your study guide will continue to get even more comprehensive and personalized! If you adopt it as a part of your study habits, the "Things to Remember" List adapts to you, tracking your progress, reminding you of the things you need to focus on, and providing exactly the information you need to study...all in one place. 

So give this simple little technique a shot and let it work for you. Then when you crush it on test day, you'll join the club of "Things to Remember" List success stories. And feel free to get in touch to let me know how it worked for you!