10 Test Taking Strategies To Improve Your Scores
Taking exams may be one of the most stressful parts of an academic career. Luckily, there are very simple, straightforward and effective steps you can take to give you an edge when taking any exam. The private tutoring professionals at Action Potential Learning have put together a list of 10 of these strategies you can use on your next test.
- Know the directions. Standardized tests like the ACT, SAT, or ISEE always have the same types of questions with the same directions year after year. This means you should know exactly what to expect when you walk into your testing room. Practice taking tests at home and pay careful attention to the directions. If you are familiar with the directions for each section of the test, you won’t have to waste time reading them in detail on the day of the real test.
- Pace yourself. You never want to spend too much time on one problem, because it cuts down on you correctly answering potentially easier problems later in the section. If you are unsure of how to answer a question, you can always skip it and come back to it.
- Use every second of your time. If you happen to finish early, do not put your pencil down and take a break. Use this time to review all your answers, even the ones you felt were the easiest. It may be exhausting keeping you brain “on” for several hours, but remember that it is short- lived and will be over soon. In the time you have however, use every possible opportunity to improve your score.
- Skip around. Always answer the easiest questions first, and then go back to the rest. If you completely skip an answer, circle the number to make sure you will go back to answer it. If you answer a question but are unsure whether it is right, underline the number. Always go back and answer the circled questions before double- checking the underlined questions.
- Keep your answers. Once you have analyzed and carefully selected an answer, stick with it. Do not go back and second guess yourself or change your answer, unless you have obviously made a careless mistake. You have a greater chance of getting a tricky question right if you stick with your first answer choice.
- Actively solve problems. When you are actively solving a test question problem, your pencil is always moving. This means you should immediately eliminate an answer choice you know is incorrect by crossing out the letter next to your answer. It also means writing short notes next to reading passages or working out a math problem in your test booklet. Always keep your pencil moving to optimize your test score.
- Eat something high in protein and in complex carbs (like an egg sandwich on whole wheat toast) the morning of the test. The protein will keep you alert and able to concentrate, and the complex carbs will help keep your energy up for the entire test. If you bring a snack, make sure it is also high in protein and complex carbs.
- Arrive early. There is nothing that will hurt your score more than feeling stressed out immediately before you take a test. Avoid this problem by leaving plenty of time to get to your test center, even if it means waiting around for an hour. In this time you are waiting, you can read a book and relax.
- Relax. Don’t study anything the day or night before the test. Rest, hang out with friends or family, and try to forget about it. In the morning, you should read something to get your mind working, like the morning paper or an online news article. You should not study anything new or try to “cram”. You’ll do best when you walk into the testing room calm and collected.
- Be prepared. When you walk into the test center, you should already have an idea of what your score should be. You will have spent a lot of time taking practice tests and making sure you understand each test problem and answer. By taking practice tests and studying with a tutor, you will feel confident and ready for the real thing.
Article written by Shayna L. Pond and Action Potential Learning
Action Potential Learning provides private tutoring in math and science as well as standardized test prep. As math and science specialists, our tutors know and understand difficult math and science concepts and can help you improve your grades and perform on standardized tests.