Next weekend, students across the country will be taking the November Administration of the SAT. Additionally, students who attend schools with semester classes will be taking midterms some time this week. Even if you do not have a student in high school, at some point this year, if you have a child in school, he or she will sit down to complete a high stakes test. Whether or not you are a fan, there are some strategies you can provide your student.
Know the Directions and Formats Ahead of Time
If you are taking a standardized test, the directions and the format are the same every time. Taking practice tests and reviewing the directions in advance can save you precious time when you arrive to the test.
If possible, arrive early so that you can get comfortable and take a big breath. Get relaxed and feel confident!
Read the questions first
Reading the questions first can help provide a purpose for reading. For example, if you know question 5 is going to ask you to determine the meaning of a word in like 67, you can circle that word before you even begin reading. Then, when you get there, you know to think about that word's meaning in the context of the essay or story.
Predict the Answer
If possible, predict the answer. This will help you save time to find the answer that best aligns to your prediction. Read the other answers just to be sure that yours is the best.
Eliminate Wrong Answer Choices
Somewhere along the way, someone started the rumor that "if you don't know, you should just guess C." Instead, I always tell students cross out what you definitely know is wrong. Even if you end up guessing, at least you've eliminated some of the distractors and increased your chances of a right answer.
Look for Key Words
Look for words like ALWAYS, NEVER, EXCEPT, MOST, or LEAST and circle them. The test is looking to trick you and see if you are paying close attention.
If you think you know the right answer, or if you have an initial reaction--don't second guess yourself. Trust your instincts because you are probably right.
For Essay Tests
Paraphrase the Question
Make sure first that you understand the question by writing it in your own words. Underline key words like define, compare, explain, etc. to help you stay on task.
Outline Your Ideas First
Before you begin writing, take a minute to outline your ideas. This will help you organize your ideas and make sure that your essay is the strongest essay possible. If you take a few minutes in the beginning to outline your idea, you will save time overall.