How to Make the Most of Praxis Practice Tests

Students who want to ensure they achieve a decent passing score on the Praxis Core exam sometimes take practice tests so they can become familiar with the test content and format. Here are some tips about how to run through practice tests in the most optimal fashion.

The first piece of advice is not to proceed by the intuitive method of taking a test and then immediately flipping to the answers to check how you did. Why not? Because if the way you figure out that you got a question wrong is by looking up the answers and seeing which ones you missed and what the actual right answers were, you don't learn anything. There's a difference between seeing what your mistake was and learning how to avoid making that mistake again.

The most effective way of going over a practice test you've taken is to have a friend check your answers for you. Then, have your friend tell you how many questions you missed, but not which ones. Once you know how many questions you got wrong, go back through the test and try to determine which ones they are. Don't change any answers yet — just mark the questions you feel least confident about. Then your friend can tell you whether you were right about which ones you got wrong. If you were (or mostly were), that's a good sign: It means at least you know whether your confidence was misplaced. If, on the other hand, it turns out that you were confident about questions you actually got wrong or shaky about questions you actually got right, pay extra-close attention to what types of questions tend to fool you and why you think that is.

Once you know which questions you missed (but not what the right answers were), keep at them until you figure out what your mistake was. Most of the time, simply hearing that you got a question wrong is enough to open your eyes and allow you to see what the problem was on your second try. If, on the other hand, the right answer still makes no sense to you after you find out what it is, that's a sign that you really need to bone up on this type of question.

The most important thing is that, after each practice test, you worry less about your score than about what types of questions you got wrong. After all, it makes no sense to take entire reading tests over and over if the only questions you ever miss are vocabulary questions, or to take entire writing tests repeatedly if all you ever get wrong are research questions.

A practice-test score that is below your expectations can be frustrating and make you want to crack open another practice test right away. But you have a limited number of practice tests, so don't waste them. There's no point in taking another practice test until you figure out what types of questions you missed and why you missed them on the previous one.

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