Five Important Standardized Test-Taking Strategies


test_takersBy: The Kumon Staff

There are five basic test-taking strategies that students of any age should have when approaching any exam or assessment. These strategies are applicable to students taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium exam in 3rd grade as well as those taking the SAT in high school.

1. Read the instructions carefully. Skipping the instructions can lead to errors. For instance, the directions may say that more than one answer is correct and you must select all answers. Or, the directions may say to select the vocabulary answer that is opposite in meaning.

2. Read each question carefully. After reading the problem carefully and paying attention to the details, underline key words that will help you to understand the question. Seek the information needed and narrow down the important information. Is the question asking for the sum? Does the answer require a synonym?
• Recognize and ignore what is unnecessary. Often math word problems will provide extra information that you don’t need in order to solve the problem.
• If you come across a difficult question, don’t spend all of your time on it. Move on and come back to it at the end.

3. On multiple choice questions, read each answer carefully before making a selection.
• Eliminate all answers that are not correct.
• Don’t fall into the trap of looking for patterns in the answers. There really can be four “B” answers in a row.

4. Select a strategy.
• Often there is more than one way to solve a problem. Chose the strategy that will work best for you. Will you draw a picture? Will you use the regrouping method? Will you use trial and error?
• Don’t second guess yourself by changing your first answers unless you are 100% certain.

5. Use all of your time wisely.
Pay attention to time passing in relation to the time allotment.
• Don’t get distracted by other students in the room.
• If you have time, go back over as many problems as you can to make sure that the answers are correct. When finished, look closely to make sure that you have answered everything and that you haven’t overlooked any questions.

As mentioned above, an important test-taking strategy is the process of carefully examining the directions and exercises, which is routinely practiced by Kumon students. When Kumon students write an incorrect answer, they try the exercise again by carefully reviewing the directions and other given information.

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