It is a lot to sit down at one time and focus for 250 questions. 5 sets of 50 questions. Aka eternity sets of eternity questions 🙂
When I took my first practice test, I literally could not focus. We took it at home since it was right at the beginning of the quarantine. I got up a bunch of times, I looked around, stared into space, thought about grocery shopping….it was HARD to keep myself focused for that long.
But of course, there’s nothing an impending super-important exam can’t make you do.
With practice I was able to get better, eventually leading to me feeling very confident and passing the NPTE.
So here are some of the BEST things I learned during this whole process, and I hope it helps you too!
To take this test you need to manage your time, focus, and emotions.
When you do the practice tests, the online software gives you a timer just like in the test. That is super helpful to get used to the time limit and not let it freak you out. The NPTE also allows you to mark questions to review.
What I did is I would go through somewhat quickly but with attention to detail, quickly banking the questions I knew for sure. I would think briefly on ones I wasn’t sure of, and if nothing came to me, I would mark it for review. That way I had time at the end allotted just for review, and if I had lots of time left, I wasn’t stressed about reviewing and thinking about the ones I wasn’t sure of.
In my opinion, the NPTE gives you more than enough time to both go over your questions and review them, so I wouldn’t worry too much about this.
Ah, this is such a tough one for me. Especially while taking the practice tests at home, it’s just too easy to get up, do something else, look at social media…..
(There are also browser extensions such as Forest, where you set a timer and block any websites you want for a set amount of time. You can also put it on your phone.)
Here are the 4 things that helped me overcome the focus issue:
- Practice – as I got more used to the long stretch of time required for the test, the less distracted I was
- Knowledge – the more I studied, the more I knew, so the less arduous the test became, and the easier it was to focus on it
- Stress – haha this totally depends on your personality. I’m the type of person where I need a little stress and a little pressure to keep myself on track. Not too much or I implode. You know your personality best – if you need a no stress mindset, give yourself ample time to study. If you like a little pressure, it should be easy to stress yourself out over this huge test 🙂
- The setting of the actual test – honestly, in a gray fabric cubicle there is not a lot to look at. Everyone is quiet in there. And you don’t have your computer or phone to look at. That really helps with the focus, so if you’re not super great during your practice tests, at least the testing center setting should lend you a hand.
OK let’s imagine you are taking the test, and you do one question that you think you got wrong. Then you do another question, and you think you might have gotten that one wrong too. Then the next 10 questions, your view becomes skewed and you think you got those wrong too. Then you start to downward spiral and everything is wrong and you’re sure you’re going to fail and then you’ll have to take the test again but that’s 3 months away and that’s so long to keep studying and then what if you don’t pass again….
This is a super not fun part of taking the test and I definitely had my fair share of breakdowns. Here is how I tried to combat them
- I would make 3 columns…..
For sure right | ? | Pretty sure wrong
Then I would tally up each question as I went along. This really helped me to be more objective about how I was doing, rather than thinking everything is terrible and life sucks.
2. Positive self talk
Take a note from The Help and repeat “you is kind, you is smart, you is important” or go with Marshall’s pep talk about running the marathon in How I Met Your Mother, whatever your flavor, positive self talk is an absolute must for this and any other test. Really, any challenge in life.
You could say stuff like, you know this, you are doing fine, take it one question at a time, you are doing well, you have gotten x questions right so far….
The more you study, the more confident you are. If you can bank more “for sure right” questions, you will feel better about your performance overall.
Those are all of my best strategies for how to manage time, focus, and emotions while studying and while taking the actual NPTE, so that you can help yourself pass!