We all know that large scale standardized testing is the bane of everyone’s existence. I took so many standardized tests during high school that it made my head spin. Preparing for standardized tests doesn’t have to be expensive nor does it have to be tedious and gut-wrenching. Here are 7 ways to prepare for standardized tests without breaking the bank.

1. Buy Used Preparation Books

There are many resources online that have options for you to buy used books (think eBay and Amazon). Online is a great place to shop around, but similarly you can look in bookstores or perhaps even ask around to older friends who might’ve taken the exam the year before.

2. Simulate The Test Setting

Half the battle of any long standardized test (I’m looking at you SATs) is the ability to sit and stay focused for the entire duration of the exam. Yes, I know the exams are long and can be unbearable but your stamina is important. Also if possible, rather than sitting in your bed surrounded by books, try sitting in a similar desk with limited supplies around you just as you will be in the actual exam.

3. Find A Study Partner Or Study Group

People are invaluable tools for learning. Most likely you probably know someone taking the exam, and could meet up with them to discuss certain areas you are having trouble with. Furthermore, you can help keep each other on track by the shared responsibility of deadlines. If you don’t know anyone personally taking the exam, write a status on facebook, post a flyer on your school’s bulletin board, or even search on social media for an SAT study group in your area (there’s bound to be one!). Check out our post on What To Look For In A Study Partner for some extra help!

4. Maintain A Realistic Study Schedule

It’s easy to create a jam-packed study schedule...and then quickly abandon it. That is why when creating a study schedule, it’s important to be honest with yourself so that you don’t forget about it entirely. The earlier you start preparing, the more flexibility you will have within your schedule. I’m guessing that if you’re taking a standardized test you are still in some level of school, and that means that you cannot neglect the course work that you currently have either. I recommend studying regularly for less time rather than a lot at once because then you can focus on the kind of problem that you are working on specifically. Try the MyStudyLife app to create the perfect study schedule.

5. Try Not To Cram Before The Exam

Stress comes from procrastination. Leaving things until the last minute can give you adrenaline and force you to produce a lot of work in a short amount of time, but this is not the best approach to take when it comes to standardized testing. Taking your time and preparing in advance both allows your mind to absorb the material better and creates less stress surrounding the exam itself.

6. Practice Problems

Knowing the kinds of problems that can be on the test is the other half of beating standardized testing. The more you practice different types of problems, the more prepared you are to tackle them in the exam. Moreover, you will spend less time on them if you know how to approach them immediately when reading them, allowing you to allocate your time on harder or more involved questions. CollegeBoard, ProProfs, and Major Tests all provide free SAT practice questions.

7. The Pomodoro Technique

Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, the Pomodoro Technique is used to effectively time manage yourself. Cirillo named this technique after the tomato kitchen timers that he used during his university studies. This technique outlines that you should work productively with no distractions or breaks for 25 minutes, and then the final 5 minutes should be used as a break. No section during the SATs, for example, is longer than 25 minutes, which means utilizing the Pomodoro Technique will get you into the perfect flow for your upcoming exam.