For a student who is required to take a standardized test for college admission or for pharmacy school, practice tests can be an invaluable resource. They give one an opportunity to see the types of questions that may appear on an exam. A complete practice exam can also help one evaluate areas of difficulty, including time management, while allowing one to experience how the exam flows and to identify areas that may require additional study.
One of the areas that students tend to struggle with on standardized tests is time management. Some will get stuck on a difficult question at the expense of completing a section, while others rush through a section, finishing early, but making mistakes due to their haste. A practice exam gives a student the opportunity to understand this process and to improve his or her time management skills. A good practice exam will mirror the real exam as closely as possible. It should have a similar number of questions and a similar time allotment for each of the sections.
The best practice tests mimic as much of the true exam as possible. This includes the format, which can be especially important for a computer-based exam. Knowing how to move from one question to the next, understanding whether or not there will be an opportunity to go back and answer a difficult question, and being able to review exam instructions beforehand can all help a student prepare for the actual exam. It can be quite comforting to sit down at a computer and see the same screenshots one has already encountered on a practice test. Practice tests usually claim to be made up of actual questions that have appeared on prior examinations.
Good practice tests are not difficult to come by if one knows where to look. The web site of the exam one is taking can usually guide one to practice questions available on the web site itself. A trip to a local bookstore or library will reveal entire sections dedicated to studying for the exams. Many times, these resources will come with a CD-ROM which includes a practice exam.
Bad practice tests will likely not be of much use to a test taker. These practice tests may not contain relevant questions, may not mimic the exam well in terms of the number of questions and time allotted, and may be formatted in such a way as to ultimately cause confusion for the test taker. It is understandable that test takers will want to take as many practice tests as possible to prepare, but staying away from bad practice tests is just as important.
Practice tests can help one prepare for standardized tests by helping with time management and by giving test takers an opportunity to answer legitimate questions that appeared on prior exams. This can be an invaluable resource for someone preparing to take a standardized test that many pharmacy schools require.