If you are in test preparation mode and want some guidance on how to perform better on your standardized tests like the ACT, SAT or AP exams, this article is written to give you the 5 best test taking tips to help you get the results you want more quickly.
Regardless of how you feel about this modern education fact, one cannot deny that these tests carry great importance for the students who take them. Performing well the ACT, SAT, AP Exams, and statewide assessments can greatly enhance a student’s chances for college admissions and scholarship consideration.
There are numerous test-taking tips specific to certain exams. However, here are the 5 best test-taking tips which I feel are more unique and important than most of the others.
- Don’t Get Flustered!
I know, I know: the test material is difficult; there are tight time constraints; your performance means a lot … just the mere thought of standardized tests tends to send your stress levels through the roof.
But if you want to get the best scores, your job as a thoughtful student is to train yourself to keep on an even keel during the test. You can do that by following these 5 best test taking tips.
While you’re taking the test, just keeping calm won’t just help you on, say, ‘that really hard question’. Rather, keeping a positive, “next-question” attitude will help you on every question of the test. This way, you won’t waste precious time and intellectual muscle by freezing up.
Pro Test Taking Tip: Everyone reacts differently to tests, but if the jitters affect your performance, then it should be a conscious part of your study plan to try to mimic the test-taking conditions as closely as possible.
Research has long shown that even studying in the same room as the test will be in helps students perform better.
2. Eliminating wrong answers is just as good as selecting correct answers
Think about this: on multiple-choice tests, if there are four answers and you guess randomly, you have a 25% chance of answering the question correctly. If you can eliminate one answer, then your odds of answering the question correctly improve by about 32%. And if you take a 100-question test, and are able to eliminate just one incorrect answer on the questions you don’t know (let’s say 40 questions), then that means that your overall score will improve, on average, by over 5%.
Pro Test Taking Tip: Remember that you don’t need to know the right answer to get credit for an answer; you just have to eliminate the wrong answers!
3. Know your test
The more you know about what to expect on test day—how much time you have, how many breaks you’ll have, and the order of the sections —the more comfortable you'll feel come test day.
By the time test day rolls around, you and your test should feel like best friends, a friend that you’ll hopefully never have to meet again in your life!
Pro Test Taking Tip: Grab a piece of paper and see if you can write down the format, length, and order of the sections of the test that you’ll be taking. If you can’t do this without making any mistakes, that’s an early indication that you’re not as prepared as you could be.
4. Know your strengths and weaknesses.
This serves multiple purposes. First, it means you learn material that will help you on specific questions. Second, it prepares you for the format and style of test questions. Third and finally, it allows you to strategize so that you can budget your time and effort on easier questions to maximize your score.
Pro Test Taking Tip:
FREE online practice tests are one of the 5 best test-taking tips. HowtoLearn.com made special arrangements for your to take a FREE ACT or SAT diagnostic test with BenchPrep.com, one of the leading test preparation providers.
Afterwards, you can view detailed answer explanations for each question and address learning gaps.
5. Focus on yourself, not on others
This may sound a bit crazy because everything seems to be about percentiles and comparing yourself to other people.
Remember though - you’re an individual, and trying to compare your performance with others’ simply won't work out well to help you maintain your self-esteem and preparedness.
Pro Test Taking Tip: Do your best; control what you can control; and remember that your test scores are not reflective of your worth as a person.
Final test taking tips: When you study, do your best to make a mental movie of the material. Brain research has long proven that people remember movies and pictures much faster than a group of words or by hearing one-word-at-a-time in your mind. Written tests, by their very nature, are known as a visual task and it will make a real difference if you create mind-maps of your chapters and then look up, just as if you are filming a mental movie of the material. Be sure to add color to your movies and remember to use the 5 best test taking tips to get the results you want on your tests more quickly.
Pat Wyman, M.A. is a college professor, best-selling author and considered to be America's Most Trusted Learning Expert. Drawing on her background in neuroscience and how the brain learns, she recommends that students taking any high stakes test use these 5 best test taking tips.