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Standard exam

Test Tips

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.

Before the Test

  1. 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.
  2. Read all test directions carefully. The directions explain exactly what is required in order to answer each type of question.
  3. Practice! The more you practice, the more familiar you will be with the test format. You will also be more likely to recognize careless errors. Try using practice tests under realistic testing conditions.
  4. Find out if there is a score penalty for wrong answers, so you’ll know whether to guess or skip answers that you don’t know.

The Day Of

  1. Make sure you get a full night’s sleep the night before the test. Don’t try to pull an all-nighter cramming for the test. You’ll want to be well-rested for the test.
  2. Remember to eat a good breakfast the morning of the test. Avoid sugary foods; high-protein foods such as eggs are often best for aiding concentration and minimizing fatigue.
  3. Wear comfortable clothing.
  4. Bring two sharpened number two pencils with you. Make sure they both have good erasers and bring a sharpener.
  5. Visit the restroom 15-30 minutes before the start of your test. Do not drink water or other beverages for an hour before the test, because a full bladder will negatively affect your concentration.

During the Test

  1. Read all test directions carefully. The directions explain exactly what is required in order to answer each type of question.
  2. 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.
  3. Time management is key. Calculate the amount of time you have to answer each question and try to avoid getting stuck on any one question. You might want to take a minute at the beginning of the test to scan through the questions, so you’ll know what to expect.
  4. Consider all answer choices before selecting your final answer. If one of the possible answers is an “all of the above” choice, make sure there isn’t more than one correct answer. If you see there are at least two correct answers, choose “all of the above.”
  5. Eliminate any answers that you know are incorrect. Eliminating a few wrong answers can increase the chances of a random guess being correct.
  6. Answer the easiest questions first. Most tests are arranged in order of difficulty, but you might find that later questions are easier for you. If you’re stuck on a question, move on to the next one; you can always return to the question later.
  7. If you have time left over at the end of the test, review your answers. Don’t second guess yourself, however! Keep an eye out for careless errors, and double check that you wrote all of your answers in the correct locations.
  8. Don’t panic. If you start getting anxious, take a few deep breaths. Don’t worry about other people finishing before you.

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!

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