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Test preparation (abbreviated test prep) or exam preparation is an educational course, tutoring service, educational material, or a learning tool designed to increase students' performance on standardized tests. Examples of these tests include entrance examinations used for admissions to institutions of higher education, such as college (e.g. the SAT and ACT), business school (the GMAT), law school (the LSAT or LNAT), medical school (the MCAT), BMAT, UKCAT and GAMSAT and graduate school (the GRE) and qualifying examinations for admission to gifted education programs.
There are many resources and services on which students may draw as they prepare for standardized tests, including:
- Mock exams: Mock exams are practice exams that help students prepare for the real exam. They are intended to give students a clear indication of the structure and content of the actual exam, as well as a snapshot of their current performance.
- Mind Maps: Mind maps allow students to visually organize relevant concepts and information, showing relationships among pieces of the whole.
- Study Guides: Various organizations and individuals produce published materials that students can incorporate into their preparation.
- Courses: Many test preparation courses are designed to expose students to the breadth of topics tested on the relevant exam and guide them through the process of studying.
- Tutors: A tutor is a person with whom students work one-on-one to improve academic performance, in this case on an exam.
- Study groups: Studying as group facilitates collaboration and exposes students to different perspectives on the material.
Most companies and educators that offer test preparation services also offer traditional (hard copy) and technology-based learning tools, such as books and other printed matter, software, websites, hand-held devices, or content for such devices. So do most test makers, publishers of self-help, instructional and educational materials, and makers of hardware and software.
- ACT, Inc. - publisher of the ACT
- American Council on Education (ACE) - publisher of the GED test
- Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) - publisher of the MCAT test
- College Board - publisher of the SAT test
- Educational Testing Service (ETS) - publisher of the GRE and TOEFL tests
- Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) - publisher of the GMAT
- Harcourt Assessment - publisher of the Miller Analogies Test (MAT)
- Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) - publisher of the LSAT test
- Barron's Educational Series - publisher of books and educational materials
- CliffsNotes - publisher of study guides
- The Complete Idiot's Guides - publisher of instructional reference books
- For Dummies - publisher of instructional/reference books
- Gary Gruber - educator and author
- McGraw-Hill - publisher of books and educational materials
- Peterson's - publisher of books and educational materials
- SparkNotes - publisher of study guides
- Study Notes - publisher of study guides
- Texas Instruments - technology company that offers test-maker approved calculators and a variety of test preparation and test-taking tools
Some test-preparation programs have been proven to help students improve test scores,  but others may have little effect.
Test preparation for the SAT is a highly lucrative field.
A lot of people have criticism towards exams and testing in the primary and high school environment, the number one type of testing in Australia that receives criticism is NAPLAN. Parents and teachers have put forward numerous numbers of cases stating the stress it is having on children and how pointless it is.
- Jenny Anderson (February 17, 2013). "Schools Ask: Gifted or Just Well-Prepared?". The New York Times. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
- Busch, Bradley (2015-12-03). "Practice makes perfect: why mock exams are great for students' brains". the Guardian. Retrieved 2016-05-17.
- Smart, Ursulua (2006). Exam Tips. SAGE Publications Ltd. pp. 162–166. doi:10.4135/9781446212127.n22.
- Smartt, Ursulua (2006). Exam tips. SAGE Publications Ltd. pp. 162–166. doi:10.4135/9781446212127.n22.
- American Book Company Validation Study
- "Time to take a breath" (PDF).