Set Yourself Up for Success: 10 Tips for Taking the CLT

By Rachel Kookogey

Reduce test-day stress with these tips.

Students often ask, “What is the best way to prepare for the CLT?” and our answer is always, “Immerse yourself in great works of literature, history, philosophy, science, and art.” The CLT is designed to reflect your academic ability and aptitude, so just focus on doing your best in your regular studies. If you need some ideas of where to get started, check out this list of authors represented in CLT test material.

That being said, we know that taking any kind of test can be scary. With our online test platform and relatively compact test length, we’ve done our best to make your CLT experience as stress-free as possible. However, there are still some things you can do to make sure you’re set up to perform to the best of your ability on test day. Here are some tips!

View the test as a collection of several smaller tests.
Instead of looking at the test as one large hill to climb, approach the CLT as three small tests with shorter timeframes: Verbal Reasoning (40 minutes), Grammar and Writing (35 minutes), and Quantitative Reasoning (45 minutes). This will help you avoid getting overwhelmed at the beginning of the test. It’s also a great strategy to use while preparing for tests. Break up your practice into small, manageable parts in the weeks and months before the test, tackling just a small piece of the practice test for a short period each day.

Know the time limits for each section and pace yourself accordingly.
You don’t want to be surprised when it’s time to move on from one section of the test to another. Make sure you’re aware of the time limits and take note of how much time per question that leaves you. If you get stuck or start to run out of time, don’t be afraid to move on to the other questions. Knock out some the easier questions first and then go back to tackle harder questions if you have time at the end.

Get a watch that you can read at a glance – and practice with it.
In order to stick to your time allotments, you will want to have a watch. While there will be a clock visible in the test site, using the same watch in practice and in the test will help you develop and maintain good pacing habits.

Familiarize yourself with the online test environment and your internet browser.
You’ll take the CLT on the laptop you bring, so make sure it’s reliable and you know it well. Spend some time with the practice tests on the CLT website so the interface is familiar. Make sure you have the latest updates for the computer and internet browser you plan to use: the last problem you want to encounter in the middle of your test is for your computer to complete an update and force a reboot!

Get a good night’s rest, but don’t force yourself to go to bed far earlier than you usually do.
While it is important to rest your mind before you take a test, you will most likely end up lying restless and awake for a long time if you force yourself to go to bed hours before your routine bedtime. Instead, enjoy a casual evening with friends or family, maybe watch a movie or read a book for fun, and go to bed at a reasonable, normal time.

Eat a healthy breakfast.
Your brain needs food too! You probably don’t want to fill up on a massive pancake breakfast and risk a sugar crash during the test, but maybe have a bowl of oatmeal or some eggs and bacon. You don’t want to be distracted from the test by an empty stomach—or a food coma.

Get up early on test day.
Start test day with a clear mind. Waking up early ensures that you’ll be alert by the time you start the test and gives you time to mentally prepare. Don’t go into your test with a foggy, still half-asleep brain!

Hydrate first thing in the morning.
Another reason to get up early: doing so also allows you to get a couple glasses of water through your system before you enter the test. If you chug water right before the test, you will probably find yourself uncomfortable and distracted by the need for a bathroom visit long before time is up. And if you don’t drink water at all, you could end up light-headed or with a headache, especially since you’re going to be looking at a computer screen for the entire test.

Don’t try to cram; last-minute studying usually adds stress without reducing errors.
You know what you know. Any last-minute studying on the morning of the test, or even the night beforehand, will probably not help you much. It will just add extra stress and wear your brain out.

Remember that you can always take the CLT again.
Keep in mind that you can take the CLT as many times as you’d like and that there are multiple test days every year. If you do retake it, colleges will only see your highest score. Moreover, as important as test scores are, remember that the goal of your education is not some remarkable number but knowledge, wisdom, and virtue. Just focus on preparing well and doing your best.

I hope you find these tips helpful. If you have any other advice about preparing for tests, make sure to share them with your fellow CLT students on our Facebook page. And, if you’re preparing for an upcoming CLT exam, make sure to check out the free CLT practice tests at cltexam.com/practice-home. Good luck!

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