The Importance of Understanding Your Mistakes on ACT/SAT Practice Tests

When you take an SAT or ACT practice test, it's important to review your mistakes.

Flickr user Tseen Khoo

When you’re taking an SAT or ACT practice test, you’re doing it for more than just to see how many you can get right on your first try (or second or third). You should be timing yourself, but also seeing what mistakes you make and, more importantly, why you made that mistake so you can learn from it.

There’s More to it Than Knowing You Got The Question Wrong

You’re taking an SAT or ACT practice test for more than one reason. You’re timing yourself, you’re seeing where your strengths and weaknesses are, and you’re understanding where you make mistakes. Knowing you made a mistake in the math section, for example, doesn’t help unless you understand why you made the error.

Once you know you got the question wrong, you can do the research into why you answered it incorrectly. Don’t just say “Oh, I was incorrect” and move on to the next question.” Know why you were wrong and work to better yourself.

You Can Study Your Weaker Subjects and Areas

Once you see your mistakes and understand why you got it wrong, you may find that you’re not particularly well versed in an area of a subject. This will help you create your study guide before you attempt to take the practice test again or even the real thing.

Understanding why you made the mistake can help you know what you need to study. If you’re completely unsure why you got a question wrong, especially math, it may be time to ask a teacher for assistance. They may be able to help you see what you’re missing.

You Can Get It Right When it Matters

Most important, you should be remembering that this is a practice test. It doesn’t mean your mistakes don’t matter. They may not reflect on your final ACT or SAT score, but they do reflect on your abilities at this point on either test. Just like with life, it’s important to learn from your mistakes.

This means taking the steps, including studying and maybe talking to teachers, to ensure you get that question or a similar question correct when it does matter. Will you be able to get it right when you sit down for the real deal? Through understanding why you got it wrong, whether it’s just a vocabulary word you have never heard before or a math formula you forgot, you can only grow as a person, improve your education, and know you’ll do better on the SAT or ACT for it.

Grading your own SAT or ACT practice tests is an absolute must, but don’t stop there. You shouldn’t be moving on from practice test to practice test without any breaks in between. That won’t do any good except result in a burnout, never a good sign for the actual test coming up. You want to stop in between each practice exam, review your answers, and study what you got incorrect. How can you improve for the real deal before your test date?

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