Test Taking Strategies

1. Skim the test to see what's involved:

How many questions?
How long are the sections? Questions?

2. Figure out about how much time you've got for each question or section. (Bring your own watch to the test.)

3. DO THE EASY QUESTIONS FIRST!!!

4. At the end, go back and fill in an answer for EVERY question. DO NOT LEAVE BLANKS!

5. On the reading test :

Look through the questions (quickly) before reading so that you know what you're looking for. Don't look through answers unless there's no key word in the question.
Read with your pencil and when you see a key word that was in the test question, underline it or put a check mark in the column next to it to quickly find again when you're answering questions
Don't answer any questions without FIRST reading the selection. They're designed to make you choose the wrong answer if you just spot read.

6. On the writing test , do those that you know and put a check next to those you've answered (or not answered) so that you'll quickly know which ones to go back to after going through the test the first time. This is the test most people fail. Do the practice exercises!!

7. On the math and science tests , go through and do the easy questions and leave the tough questions for last.

8. Try to give yourself enough time to go through the questions three times :

once to do the easy questions
second to work on those you have an idea about
third to write in guesses on those you don't know
If you don't get time to do the third part, those are questions you'd most likely have missed anyway.

9. Have a plan for guessing :

If you have no idea, always choose the same letter.
Decide whether to write in guesses right away or on the third time through—but keep in mind that later questions may prompt you remember the answers to earlier questions. So mark your guesses so you can come back to them if necessary.

10. Practice deep breathing and muscle relaxation:

don't hunch your shoulders up around your neck
avoid being too tense

11. Get a good night's sleep the night before (seven hours minimum). Lack of sleep impairs your ability to make decisions.

12. Get up early enough to avoid rushing. Give yourself time for a good breakfast.

13. Eat a high protein breakfast that morning:

milk (with Carnation Instant Breakfast is even better)
eggs
peanut butter (2 Tbsp)
lean meat (at least 3 oz)
fish
yogurt
cottage cheese/cheese in general

14. Have enough juices and carbohydrates, but not too much because carbohydrates can make you drowsy.

15. Avoid having much sugar the morning before the tests—when the sugar gives out, so does your ability to focus on the tests.

16. Some caffeine is good because it does wake up your brain. Too much caffeine is a depressant and impairs your test taking ability.

17. REVIEW! Even if you're fairly confident that you're going to do well, review. Have your reading, writing, math and science reasoning skills sharpened and ready to go. The test is NOT the time to practice!


Last Updated: 6/7/12