Standardized Test Taking Strategies That Will Help On The SAT or ACT

By Huntington Learning Center

Top Ten Strategies for Standardized Test Taking

 Doing your very best on an exam requires careful preparation, a positive outlook, and an understanding of highly effective standardized test taking strategies. Taking a standardized test is high stakes, but it doesn't need to be high pressure. These ten standardized test taking strategies will set you on the right path!

  1. Plan your preparation and allow plenty of time Cramming rarely works. The best way to excel on any standardized test is to carefully plan your preparation while allowing plenty of time to study. The professional tutors at Huntington Learning Centers can help you identify which areas of the exam will require the most preparation. Using careful assessment practices they will identify both your strengths and your weaknesses while planning individualized tutoring sessions tailored to your specific needs.
  2. Prepare for the format Every standardized test is different. They each emphasize different skills, knowledge, and test formats. Understanding the specific format of the test you are going to take is vital. Spend time researching the tested subject areas, the skills included in the assessment, and the time allowed for each section.
  3. Understand what is allowed Each standardized test specifically outlines what is allowed in the exam and what is not. There are limitations on electronics, materials, and calculators. Make sure you know what you can and cannot bring into the test and leave all prohibited items at home. Don't let a wayward cell phone ring jeopardize your exam performance.
  4. Get plenty of rest and fuel your body properly Your mind can't work to its maximum potential without proper rest and fuel. Make sure you are focusing on your physical health, as well as your cognitive preparation, leading up to test day. Get plenty of sleep and choose healthy meals high in protein and low in sugar.
  5. Know where you are going Don't wait until the last minute to find out where the exam is being held. Take a trial run to find your testing center and the room you will be in. Allow plenty of time on the day of the test to account for traffic or unforeseen delays.
  6. Use your test booklet Put your test booklet to good use! You can underline, circle, cross out, draw diagrams, jot notes, and work problems in your test booklet. Make sure to avoid errant marks on the answer sheet to avoid confusion with electronic scoring.
  7. Scan the exam Before you answer any questions take a minute to scan the exam. Look for the types of questions asked, how many questions are in each subtest, and any potential pitfalls. This will help you to pace yourself during the exam and allow you to maximize the available time.
  8. Get active You don't have time for passive reading. Once you start answering questions it is critical for you to read actively and interact with the exam. Use context clues, critical vocabulary, and connections to other topics to help you answer questions. If you are unsure how to use active reading strategies during a standardized test, the professionals at Huntington Learning Centers can help. Your personalized tutoring sessions will help you gain the skills necessary to quickly and effectively navigate and understand the exam questions.
  9. Pace yourself If a question seems too difficult, or may require too much time, it is a good idea to skip it and come back to it. Make sure to spend a majority of your time on questions that you are confident in your answers. If there is time available you can go back and answer questions that you skipped.
  10. Use every available second If you finish before time is called you should return to the test booklet and review your answers. Take a second look at items that posed a challenge and reread the questions for clarity. You should also scan the answer sheet for errant marks or areas that need to be clearly erased.


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