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The LEGO Approach to Ideal Test Preparation

act gmat gre sat Jan 14, 2019

Tell me if this sounds familiar.

You've been studying like crazy for your standardized test (whether SAT, ACT, GMAT, or GRE), and you feel like you've brushed up on all of the key concepts that are supposedly tested. But then you go to take your first practice test (or worse, the real thing) and, uh-oh!, you encounter some questions that you simply haven't seen before.

Panic sets in, and you wonder whether all that preparation was for naught.

Now you're confused. What did I miss? Did my tutor / prep course steer me wrong? Do I need to seek out new books that may have some of these "missing" practice questions in them? Will I ever be able to get the score I need?

Truth be told, you probably haven't missed anything. I'm sure your prep course or tutor didn't overlook any major topics, and that book you've been studying from almost certainly includes all of the major content areas you can expect to see on test day.

So what went wrong?

More likely than not, you simply haven't yet trained yourself to pull from different content areas when a question requires skills from multiple disciplines within the same question. And yes, that's to be expected -- especially on harder question which, frankly, you should want to encounter if you're going to get the high score you're shooting for.

Think of the foundational skills and knowledge areas required for success on your exam as LEGO building blocks. Only the simplest of questions will ask you to solve it using a single "block." Instead, most questions will require you to pull from lots of different types of "blocks" to produce the final answer. That's why a question may look like you've never seen it before, and yet the underlying skills (building blocks) necessary to answer it are in fact concepts you've been exposed to before. It's just a matter of being on the lookout for that and understanding how to piece them all together no matter what type of seemingly-novel question the test-makers throw at you.

This methodology is what I call the "LEGO Approach" to test preparation, and I detail it all in the above video -- with an illustrative example to show you exactly what I'm talking about. Once you grasp this concept, it will change everything for you in terms of how you study for your exam and think about those more challenging questions on test day.


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