Test Taking Strategies II

February 6, 2008

Here are a few more test taking strategies that I tell all of my students.

4.  Pictures are key.  When taking a math test, draw a picture whenever possible.  Most of the test sites don’t let you write in the test booklet.  Instead, draw the picture that is in the test on your scrap paper.  Now write all over it.  Fill in the numbers that you’re given, and any numbers that you come up with on your own.  If you aren’t given a picture, draw your own, it doesn’t take much time, but it benefits you greatly.  Looking at a picture uses a different area of the brain than words.  The more areas of the brain that you can get involved, the better your odds of getting the right answer.

5.  Skipping around.  Everyone gets to a question that makes you go “huh?”.   Don’t let it stress you out.  Instead, go to the next question and save it until the end.  Make sure that you put a small mark to the left of the number on your answer sheet.  This way, it is away from the bubbles so the computer won’t read it as an answer.  By marking it this way, you won’t forget to answer it later, and you won’t put the next answer in the wrong space.   Also, if you don’t have time, or forget to erase the marks later, it’s no big deal.  Many times, giving yourself a break from the difficult questions relieves enough of the pressure that you can better focus on the question at hand.  Then when you return to the questions that you skipped, you’ll have a new perspective that allows you to look at the questions differently.  The result is more correct answers.  And isn’t that what you’re after, anyway?

6.  Essay planning.  When it comes to writing an essay, think about it first.  You have 45 minutes to write the essay.  I suggest spending at least 10 minutes thinking about it first.  Then map out your ideas.  Often, your first response isn’t the one that you can write about the easiest.  For example, here is a possible topic for an essay:  Americans love to watch sports, do you prefer to go to a game, or watch it on TV?  My first response is that I don’t watch sports.  But, since I have to write on this topic, I would have to say that I’d prefer to go to a game.  However, I can’t come up with many reasons why I prefer to go to a game other than I like the action.  On the other-hand, I can come up with several reasons for watching a game on TV.  The cost, comfort, and healthier food are reasons to stay home.  Do your best to come with 3 reasons for your answer.  Then explain them in more detail in your supporting paragraphs.  Your essay is supposed to look like a rough draft.  When you finish writing it, go back over it and make corrections.  Keep in mind that the graders who read the essays have only 60 seconds to read and score it.  Their focus is on whether or not you answered the question and gave support for your answer, not spelling and grammar.

Good luck!


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