Test Taking Tip Essentials

Try out these strategies while you're still in high school, and by the time you get to college, you'll be a test-taking expert.

Before the Test

  • Eat well. Studies show that you need good nutrition to concentrate and perform your best.
  • Bring the right supplies. Bring your pencils, erasers, pens, rulers, compasses, calculators, or whatever else you'll need on test day.
  • Review the whole test before you start. See how many sections and what types of questions are on the test. Consider how much time to allow for each section, basing your decision on the point value of each. You don't want to spend too much time on a question that counts for only a few points.
  • Jot down your first thoughts.  From your first look at the test, take quick notes on ideas you might forget. For example, you may want to outline your answers to written response and essay questions right away.

During the Test

  • Read the directions. Never assume that you know what the directions say. For example, some questions may have more than one correct answer.
  • Answer easy questions first. Answering easier questions may jog your memory about useful facts. You may also come across information that can help you with other questions.
  • Answer every question. Unless there's a penalty for wrong answers, it can't hurt to try.
  • Ask questions. If a question isn't clear, talk to your teacher. If that's not possible, explain your answer in the margin.
  • Identify key words. This will help you focus on the main idea of challenging questions.
  • Rephrase difficult questions. To understand questions better, rewrite them in your own words, but be careful not to change the meaning.
  • Organize your thoughts before you write. Spend some time organizing your responses to short-answer and essay questions. You'll reduce the time you need to revise.
  • Write neatly. Be sure you don't lose points on answers the instructor can't read.
  • Use all of the time you're given. If you finish early, don't race out. Use the extra time to proofread and edit your answers.