When it comes to test taking, middle and high school students have a lot on the line. They worry about how their scores compare to their peers, how it affects the classes they get into in years to come, its influence on their acceptance into college, what their parents will think, and so much more. It’s a stressful time and the trick is to help students not succumb to the pressure by providing them with helpful tips and tools that garner success during testing.
Prepare: Mark test dates on a calendar that you see daily. Don’t let a test creep up on you. Study well in advance by breaking up your material over several weeks or days. Review nightly and don’t cram.
Take Care: Make sure you go to bed early and get plenty of rest during test days. Wake up a little bit earlier than usual to ensure you can get out the door on time. Eat a healthy breakfast – nothing to sugary or heavy which may cause you to crash mid-test. And NO caffeinated drinks! Dress appropriately – bring a sweater in case the classroom is too cold. Store a mint in your pocket and if allowed, eat it when you begin to get sleepy or right before the test- it’s a proven pick me up!
Scan the Test: Get a feel for the types of questions you will have to answer. Are they multiple choice? short answer? essay? Also scan to find out what material is being covered- this is helpful so you can anticipate certain questions and allot the appropriate amount of time for each section of the test. This will also insure that you are taking the correct test (this is especially helpful for tests that come with several subjects in one booklet).
Take your Time: Students often feel the need to rush through a test just to get it over with or because they want to dry heave their knowledge as quickly as possible onto paper. However, the best bet is to use every minute you have to take your test, reading questions over carefully and thinking over all answers before picking the best option.
Eliminate Wrong Answers: It may sound counter intuitive to seek out wrong answers while looking for the right one, but this tip is perfect for students who feel overwhelmed with too many choices. If you can eliminate just two answers you have a 50/50 chance of choosing correctly.
Use Context Clues: You probably have learned how to use clues within the text to determine the meaning of unknown words, but have you thought of using the test itself to help you answer questions you’re unsure of. Use other questions and their answer choices to help you with questions you are stuck on. Sometimes the answers in other questions may not be the right answer for the question it pertains to but could be a helpful clue for another question.
If You Don’t Know it, Skip it: If you find yourself unable to answer a question even after eliminating wrong answers and using context clues, skip it. Make a light mark on your test so you can make sure to come back to it. Still don’t know which answer is best? Some say that the longest and most detailed answer is often the correct one, so if you’re absolutely stuck and need to guess, choose that answer.
Check your Work: We all make mistakes so save some time at the end of the test to check your work. Erase stray marks, make sure bubbles are nice and dark, and most importantly, double check that the bubble you filled in matches the answer you choose in your test booklet! If you skipped a question, go back and answer it. This is also the time to consider tip #9. Lastly, make sure you answer ALL questions! Don’t leave anything blank.
Your First Choice is the Best Choice: Your first answer choice is often the BEST answer choice. Students that go back through questions and begin to second guess themselves often find that they chose correctly the first time. So only change answers if absolutely necessary.
Relax: It’s easier said than done, but if you follow the tips above, you shouldn’t feel stressed. Remember to breathe deeply, get yourself comfortable, and rest assured that you’ve done everything possible to be prepared and you’re going to do your very best!
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