Standardized tests are nobody's idea of a good time. While some people might be better than others at acing their exams, few among us actually look forward to the kind of studying and preparation necessary to perform well. Thankfully, there are a few strategies that can make test taking a little less painful while ensuring the best score possible. No matter the test, these five strategies are surefire ways to improve your test taking skills and get you the best possible results on the exam:
Whether you're feeling unsure about the test or you know you'll ace it, it makes sense to read through the questions completely before you tackle them individually. Take each group of questions section by section and read through them thoroughly. Try to answer them in your mind before reading the answer choices and jot down any gut reactions you have. Even if you don't spot the answer among the options listed, that initial reaction can get your wheels turning.
While you're reading through the questions, mark the ones you feel confident about. As you come across problems you're less sure about, circle those. Finally, star the problems you're particularly worried about. This strategy will help you know which questions you should devote time to really pondering versus the ones you should just answer and keep moving.
Test taking isn't a natural activity, and it's one we've had to train our entire lives to become decent at. It's no surprise that pacing is an issue for many test takers. Given how long many standardized tests can be and how limited the timing often is, it makes sense that the minutes slip away without notice. While phones might be banned from the testing room, your handy watch likely is not. Bring it with you to keep yourself abreast of the time, but also to pace yourself on particularly challenging questions.
It's tempting to spend a lot of time reviewing each question to ensure you have the right answer but spreading out your minutes equitably over questions of varying difficulty makes more sense. Those questions you starred because you were feeling extra concerned about? Allot yourself a few extra minutes to work on them, while breezing past the questions you marked with a high level of confidence.
You trust your instincts for lots of things in life, but you never second guess it more than when you're taking a test. While it's easy to advise all test takers to go with their gut, we've got a more helpful version of that piece of advice: don't change an answer unless you can prove to yourself that it's wrong. If your gut is leaning heavily in one direction over another, there's usually good reason for it. Unless you can prove to yourself, in a satisfying way, that you should change your answer, stick with your initial instinct. Going back and forth on an answer serves only to confuse you and waste further time.
The process of elimination is a strategic standby, one that's withstood the test of time. No matter the subject or format of the exam, eliminating the obviously incorrect answers is a great way to up your odds of choosing the right answer. For an extra helpful way of doing this, work out why each eliminated answer is indeed the wrong one. It can be useful to consider the facts and theories associated with the question even if the answer itself is incorrect. By thoughtfully considering each option and eliminating them based on reason, you're more likely to find the correct one.
While it seems obvious to review your work before handing in a test, not everyone undergoes this crucial step. By taking a moment to re-read through each question and answer choice, you ensure not only that you've answered each one, but you guarantee that you didn't misunderstand the way something was worded. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of a test in the first moments of the exam period but taking time to go back over each question can help you catch questions you misunderstood initially.
Taking a few minutes to review your work can be counterintuitive, though. When you find yourself second-guessing your answers, it may be time to give in. While you should always trust your gut, when your gut is wavering between multiple options and not giving you any clear direction to follow, you may simply be tested out. Trust yourself to answer correctly and know when you've given it your best shot. There's no sense in second guessing every answer
One study strategy everyone can benefit from is the opportunity to take practice tests before the real thing. Familiarizing yourself with the layout, timing and kinds of questions on the exam is a great way to ensure maximum comfort the day of the test. Luckily, Exam Edge features every kind of practice exam you could possibly hope to take, complete with explanations for the correct answers and timed options for those who want to pause the test and come back to it later.