When it comes to the standard answers with any test prep, the assumption is that they are referenced once you finish a practice. They allow you to confirm the true and correct the false immediately! They make possible that you know and work on your weaknesses right away. That’s a no brainer, you think.
Wait a minute. There is a question seldom asked here. Is your weakness the inability to reason a false with awareness, or without? In other words, should you practice on telling why a false is a false when you are sure that it is, or when you are not sure? The former is what you have assumed and been taught everywhere by now, from Kaplan to Princeton Review, the folks who claim to produce the best test scores for you.
However, your reality in a test is the latter. From the moment you go into a test to the minute you come out, you are never made aware the trueness and falseness on any of the As, Bs, Cs and Ds. What you do in those 3 to 4 hours is merely to find or think the pros and cons on the choices’ truthfulness as much as you can. The stronger the reasons you find, the more confident you are on your nominations and eliminations. To this end, the very skill you should be practicing is to reason on something without the absoluteness of its true or false—the standard correct answers.
It is wrong of all the popular test preps that they try to make you do the former—the assumed way—unfortunately. Knowing the correct answer brings your thinking with a hindsight bias. Such bias discounts your practice in terms your next immediate test scores. Most students I know who have used the popular test preps experienced disappointments. They were predicted to produce higher scores at the end of the prep courses and received lower ones in real later. The discount in scores comes at anything from 20 to 60. That’s significant.
Up to here, a question you might have is when the standard answers should be brought in. To avoid the bias does not meant you must avoid the standard answers. You only want to avoid of knowing it too soon. Once you are solid confident on your choices—chances are that you have weighed it back and forth 3 to 5 rounds on the difficult ones—you can go to the standard answers for confirmation.
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So, now you know you should not look at the standard answers too soon because the most significant effect they have on your practice is a hindsight bias that discounts your improvements. Try not to look at the provided answers until you have worked on a practice question 3 or more times.
Go mastering your practice now!
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