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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), medical school (the MCAT), and graduate school (the GRE) and qualifying examinations for admission to gifted education programs.
Test preparations or studying is when students' use strategies to increase their knowledge or to memorise information from their classes. In the Australian school system at the end of year 12 students receive an ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank) which is a result from their examinations, students are required an ATAR score for a better chance in to a university. School students through year 5-9 also face Naplan test which is a test that involves literacy, reading and numeracy skills.
There are many skills and steps that students need to use for success, some include:
- Mock exams; Mock exams are practice exams that help students' prepare for the real exam, it gives students' a clear indication of what they need to improve on and what they can expect.
- Tutors; A tutor is a person that you can go to for one on one support and help on a school topic.
- Mind Maps; Mind maps allow you to write all the relevant information down which allows you to look at everything all in one picture.
- Study groups; Studying as group will allow students' to help each other as they will all have different understandings of the topic. Working in a group allows students' to spread the workload or researching out which will help with time management etc.
- Ask questions; It is important to ask questions to classmates, teachers, tutors, if you don't ask questions it could possibly lead to failure.
- Use past papers; Looking over past exam papers will give students an indication of how previous exams have gone and what to expect.
Major companies offering test preparation services include:
- Club Z! In-Home Tutoring Services
- College Board
- C2 Education
- Kaplan, Inc.
- Manhattan Review
- The Princeton Review
- Revolution prep
- Sylvan Learning
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 amounts 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.
- "TISCOnline - Australian Tertiary Admission Rank". www.tisc.edu.au. Retrieved 2016-05-17.
- "NAPLAN | NAP". www.naplan.edu.au. Retrieved 2016-05-17.
- 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.
- 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).