How to pass standardized tests

Written by Philip Kile and (Uploaded by) Morgan Burleigh

What is a standardized test?

A standardized test is an exam administered to a student in a uniform manner to track results dependably. Standardized tests are imperative due to the fact they are a strategic tool used to determine not only short term but long term academic performance as well as predict performance in the working field. Tests can be administered on different levels depending on the education level. For instance, elementary students can expect to take the PSSA (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment).

A second example would be a high school student who can anticipate taking not only a Pennsylvania standardized test known as the Keystone Exam, but also the SAT’s. The SAT is a test given to students to measure student preparedness for college. As these exams may seem cumbersome, there are some simple tips and tricks to prepare to score satisfactory results on your upcoming exam.  

The first tip to passing the standardized exam is gaining an understanding for how the test will be graded. You should be well-versed of which topics will be highlighted and how each section will be graded. Also, if there is a specific topic that will be on the exam that you do not feel confident with, talk to your professor about gaining tutoring to better prepare yourself. You’ll want to get a good night’s sleep before the exam. Additionally, you may want to consider stimulating your mind the morning of the test by eating a balanced breakfast. Students will want to eat a well-balanced dish with an adequate amount of carbohydrates.  By doing so you’ll have a higher amount of focus to increase your ability to concentrate during the exam. A balanced meal will also enhance your memory and mood as well as lower your stress level. 

Test takers should be encouraged to arrive at the test center early and prepared with any supplies needed, such as pencils and or a calculator. While taking the exam, if you come across a question you are unsure of, just be sure to reread the question and confirm you are comprehending the question being asked. If the exam is multiple-choice, a strategy would be to start eliminating the answers that you are sure are not correct, first. Through process of elimination, if you are still unsure, it is best to take an educated guess through the use of context clues.

Time management on a standardized test is key. There will be an allotted time period you are given to take the exam, be sure that you are not spending too much time on one given question. It is best to answer “easy” questions first or problems that you know won’t take up an abundance of time so you can use the remaining minutes to focus on more time-consuming questions. Try to avoid getting caught up on one question, this will lead to overthinking and may lead to a mistake. It is crucial to remind yourself not to rush, stick to your time budget, and remain calm in order to avoid an error. Don’t be afraid to skip questions and return to them later.

Standardized tests may be unavoidable, but how well you perform due to manageable study habits, and a clear and concise plan is going to make your experience more enjoyable when you’re on track to a positive outcome. By adhering to the above tips such as eating a well-balanced breakfast, arriving at the testing center early, remaining calm, understanding the question fully, etc. I feel confident you’ll notice a difference in your test-taking abilities. 

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