General Education

4 Tips for Acing the New York State Regents Exams

4 Tips for Acing the New York State Regents Exams
New York State’s Regents exams measure benchmark skills across five core academic disciplines. Image from Unsplash
Yamini Pathak profile
Yamini Pathak May 29, 2015

Passing five or more Regents exams is essential to receive one of New York State's respected Regents Diplomas. Learn about four effective test prep strategies to get over this important educational hurdle.

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Once you understand the structure and content of the Regents exams, you’ll probably start thinking about how you can prepare.

After all, preparation is crucial. Kevin Jeng, a high school math teacher in the Bronx, emphasizes the importance of the Regents exams for his students. Beyond the fact that passing them is required to obtain a Regents diploma, Jeng argues that earning high scores is an important end in itself. Students who score below 80 on the algebra or below 75 on the ELA Regents need to take remedial courses in college — a circumstance that, in turn, increases that academic and financial pressures that students face in college.

By being prepared, you can position yourself well for success post-graduation. Here are four steps you can take to get ready for these important milestones.

1. Study every day.

Don’t leave studying to the last days before the exams. Work backward from your test dates and make study deadlines for yourself. Start with material learned at the beginning of the school year because you are more likely to have forgotten it. I spoke with one high school junior — we’ll call her Jane — who attends a Catholic school in Briarwood, Queens to get her advice for Regents studying:

I would start reviewing about a month before the regents. Buying a practice regents book and doing 10 questions a day and reviewing the questions. Even a little bit of jogging your memory will help, you don’t even have to study vigorously. Just jogging your memory can do you a huge favor.

That said, the time needed to prepare will vary from exam to exam and student to student, so speak with your teachers or an advisor about creating a plan that is suited to you. And then stick to it!

Remember too that study groups can also be helpful since members of a group can quiz each other and answer one another’s questions.

2. Practice with old tests.

Jane explained that she has already taken six Regents and is preparing to take four more in June. Her advice is that the best way to get ready is to answer questions from past exams. She also believes that study material for the Regents helps students prepare for other standardized tests, such as the SAT Subject Tests, and provides important opportunities to practice test-taking strategies, such as the process of elimination.

You can find old tests for free on the NYSED website or at the Regents Exam Prep Center, which features a lesson page for each topic, interactive student practice pages, and teacher resource pages. Past Regents exams with answer keys are also available.

The Barron’s NYS Regents exam preparation site offers six-month subscriptions on all available subjects for $24.99; it also includes past exam questions (selected by date or topic). Answers and feedback are provided along with problem explanations; you can also save material for future review. Teacher and classroom subscriptions are available, at $36.99 and $154.99 per year, to enable educators to set up practice tests for their students and track their students’ progress.

Barron’s study guides are also available in print. You can request for them at your public library or find them wherever books are sold.

3. Get help from teachers.

Attend all extra classes for Regents prep in school. Teachers can be a great help. They will often review practice tests and other material in class and provide tips to help you perform at your best. They are also well-versed in the learning standards that are being assessed and will be able help you focus your efforts.

4. Enroll in a test-prep program.

Some students hire a private tutor in order to get additional materials and targeted expertise. For example, Long Island Regents Prep offers a one-day Regents Review course for each subject. This is led by a NYS-certified teacher and includes review materials, practice questions, and test-taking strategies. Test-prep centers typically charge between $150 and $175 per subject reviewed.

Final Thoughts

New York State’s Regents exams measure benchmark skills across five core academic disciplines. They are a rite of passage for most high schoolers, and while no one ever characterizes them as fun, they provide students with a strong educational foundation and the opportunity to demonstrate their preparedness for college or the workforce.

Follow this link to learn more about the content and structure of the New York State Regents exams.


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