stuck in the 500 zone

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New Member
2+ Year Member
Jul 1, 2016
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Hi all,
I've now taken 5 of the next step full length exams and can't seem to break the 500 zone. I know there are still some content areas I'm lacking in, but I thought that was doing a pretty good job filling in those knowledge gaps yet it's not showing in my scores.

NS FL1 - 499 (125/125/123/126)
NS FL 2 - 501 (126/126/126/123)
NS FL 3 - 498 (125/123/125/125)
NS FL 4 - 499 (125/127/123/124)
NS FL 5 - 501 (126/125/125/125)

Any and all advice on how to switch up reviewing my FLs or generally having a different approach moving forward would be greatly appreciated!


Indoor Cat
Lifetime Donor
2+ Year Member
Aug 7, 2018
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When's your test?

How much time/amount of studying are you doing between tests? Do you find that when you review your questions you are getting questions wrong because you straight up don't know the topic? Or are you getting questions wrong because you misinterpreted the passage? Or are they really obvious answers but you got wrong because you forgot the question was asking for "what is NOT X" and not "what is X"? I always go through and put the questions I got wrong into one of those three buckets because the first one is a lack of knowledge so you need to study the content, the second is a lack of reading comprehension which is a skill to work one, and the third is something associated with nerves or inattention but you can't really work on other than being more conscientious.

Depending on how much time you have left, given your scores are low in all areas, you're probably bettering off focusing on content review and doing practice questions instead of churning out full-length tests. Full-length tests aren't going to be that useful as a study tool until you have a better mastery of the content.
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