Each standardized test is different, and it is important that you understand the appropriate strategies for taking each test. This information is available in testing bulletins and on the testing Web sites.
Whether you are a taking a paper- or computer-based exam, the same general strategies apply:
- Prior to taking the test, familiarize yourself with how the test works. What kinds of materials, questions and directions are contained in it? Most exams are broken down into separate sections with different subject matter and/or question formats. Become familiar with the formats and requirements of each section of the test.
- Read all test directions carefully. The directions explain exactly what is required in order to answer each type of question.
- Read each test question carefully and thoroughly. Before answering a question, determine exactly what is being asked. Never glance over a question or the possible answers, as superficial reading, or skimming, may cause you to miss important information.
- Time management is key. Pay attention to the number of questions and the amount of time remaining during the test session. You will obtain the best score possible if you consider each question carefully before answering. If you are running out of time at the end of a section and there are still unanswered questions, eliminate as many answer choices as possible for each question, then select the answer you think is best. Taking several practice tests prior to your real exam will be helpful to you in practicing time management.
- Be sure to read the test bulletin to determine whether to guess or pass on a question when you don’t know the answer.
A Reminder About Score Reports
Most U.S. colleges and universities have admissions deadlines for the fall semester that run from November through February. Paper tests are given on set days at set locations. Sending test scores to the institutions for paper tests may take 2 to 8 weeks, depending on the test. Computer-based tests are given year-round by appointment in most metropolitan locations worldwide and in temporary sites elsewhere. Score reporting for computer-based tests can take 10 days to 3 weeks.
* Many test takers mistakenly wait until the last minute to sign up for their tests. Never make that mistake—your scores need to arrive in time for your application deadlines. Register early!