Wednesday, December 9, 2015

10 Helpful Steps for Test-Taking Success

Whether it's a unit test, mid-term or final exam that's looming, we know you'll experience much more success if you plan for it. Here are ten of the most helpful steps to improve your test-taking success (presented in a bulleted format for your convenience and ease of use):

1. Think Positively AND Prepare for Success!
Consider the coming test or examination as an opportunity, a chance to demonstrate what you have learned and what your now know. The test may be a challenging opportunity, but you CAN do this.

2. Create a Plan for Success
a. The week before the test, ask your teacher about the following:
1.) Will the material for the test be from the textbook only? From class notes? Other?
2.) If a math test is planned, will it be possible to use a calculator?
b. If you've been absent, ask friends about material you may have missed.
c. Make a list of the most important topics to be covered.
1.) Use this as a guide when you study.
2.) Highlight the topics you know will require extra time for you to study.
3.) Allow for extra time to study those most challenging topics.

3. What to Do the Night Before the Test
a. Remember that cramming for a test or exam really doesn't work, no matter what other students may say.
b. If you've followed a study plan, the night before the test should be a time when you do a quick review and get to bed early.
c. Your brain and body require sleep to function well, so avoid staying up late or “pulling an all-nighter.”

4. What to Do the Morning of the Test
a. You will actually think better and more productively when you have a full stomach, so plan to eat a nutritious breakfast the morning of the test.
b. Arrange to arrive at school early.
c. Make sure you have everything you'll need for the test:
1.) Scratch paper
2.) Extra pencils and/or pens
3.) Erasers
4.) A calculator, ruler, reading tools, apps and other aids or accommodations (if permitted).
d. Do a ten-minute power study or quick review of important points right before the test, so your brain will be “in gear” from the beginning of the testing session.

5. What to Do at Test Time
a. Quickly scan through the test before starting.
b. Read all the test instructions CAREFULLY!
c. Understand how the test is scored:
1.) Do you lose points for incorrect answers?
2.) Or is it better to make guesses when you're not sure of the answer?
d. Make sure you are marking answers correctly.

6. Manage Your Time Well
a. Answer the easy questions first. This can be a time saver AND build your self-confidence.
b. Allow for more time near the end of the testing period for focusing on the most challenging part of the test.

7. What to Do with a “Mental Block”
Tricky problems or test questions can knock you off balance. Don't get worried or frustrated. Here are some practical things to do when you “get stuck” during the test:
a. Reread the question to make sure you understand it, and then try to solve it the best way you know how.
b. If you're still stuck, circle it and move on. You can come back to it later.
c. What if you have no idea about the answer? Review your options and make the best guess you can, but only if you don't lose points for wrong answers.

8. What to Do with Multiple-Choice Questions
The process of elimination can help you choose the correct answer in a multiple-choice question.
a. Start by crossing off the answers that couldn't be right.
b. Then spend your time focusing on the POSSIBLE correct choices before selecting your answer.

9. Neatness Does Count!
Look over your test to ensure that your work is neat and answers are clearly written. If your 4s look like 9s, that could be a real problem on a math test. Be sure that your writing is legible and that you erase your mistakes. For machine-scored tests, fill in the spaces carefully and in the appropriate places.

10. Am I Finished Yet?
When you complete the last item on the test, remember that you should then:
a. First, check the clock and go back to review your answers.
b. Make sure that you didn't make any careless mistakes (like putting the right answer in the wrong place or skipping a question).
c. Then, spend the remaining minutes going over the most difficult problems before you turn in your test.

Follow these practical test tips, and you'll know you did your best! Then celebrate your success!

Sources & Related Resources:

1. Top Ten Test-Taking Tips for Students---from TeacherVision

2. Top 10 Study Tips---by Maximillian Hart, Test Taking Tips

3. Top 10 Test-Taking Strategies---from

4. Reading Focus Cards Desktop App (Patent 8,360,779)
CUSTOMIZABLE app (for Macs & PCs) that helps challenged readers and learners of ALL ages & abilities (especially helpful for persons with ADHD, dyslexia, low vision, autism & other issues that can affect reading success). This desktop app promotes more FOCUSED reading and studying whether ONLINE or OFFLINE.
Windows PCs:

5. The Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759)
Sensory-appealing and customizable reading tools and solutions that help challenged readers of all ages with printed media (physical books, worksheets & documents.)

For information on customizable low-tech & digital reading tools for all kinds of challenged readers, please visit: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info and support for struggling readers

Images courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at