Test Taking Tips
Short Answer Test
- Prepare for the test by studying summary sheets or outlines. Try to categorize the material.
- Use grammatical clues within a statement as hints for the correct answer.
- A guess made with common sense could get you more test points than if you leave an answer blank.
- Write your short answers in simple sentences. Packing as much information as you can is more important than literary style.
- Every part of a true sentence must be “true”. If any one part of the sentence is false, the whole sentence is false despite many other true statements.
- Pay close attention to negatives, qualifiers, absolutes, and long strings of statements.
- Negatives can be confusing. If the question contains negatives, as “no, not, cannot” drop the negative and read what remains. Decide whether that sentence is true of false. If it is true, it’s opposite, or negative, is usually false.
- Qualifiers are words that restrict or open up general statements. Words like “sometimes, often, frequently, ordinarily, generally” open up the possibilities of making accurate statements. They make more modest claims, are more likely to reflect reality, and usually indicate “true” answers.
- Absolute words restrict possibilities. “No, never, none, always, every, entirely, only” imply the statement must be true 100% of the time and usually indicate “false” answers.
- Long sentences often include groups of words set off by punctuation. Pay attention to the “truth” of each of these phrases. If one is false, it usually indicates a “false” answer.
- It is usually better to guess than to leave an answer blank. After all you have a 50% chance of being right.
- Read the directions carefully.
- Notice whether one column is longer than the other. If so, some answers may not get used. Others may be used twice.
- Match the easiest items first. Then the remaining ones may be less confusing.
- Read the directions carefully.
- Know if each question has one or more correct option.
- Know if you are penalized for guessing.
- Answer easy questions first.
- Cover the options, read the stem, and try to answer. Select the option that most closely matches your answer.
- Read the stem with each option. Treat each option as a true-false question, and choose the “most true.”
- Eliminate options you know to be incorrect.
- Question options that don’t grammatically fit with the stem.
- Question options that are totally unfamiliar to you.
- Question options that contain negative or absolute words.
- “All of the above:” If you know two of three options seem correct, “all of the above” is a strong possibility.
- Number answers: toss out the high and low and consider the middle range numbers.
- “Look alike options” probably one is correct; choose the best but eliminate choices that mean basically the same thing, and thus cancel each other out.
- Echo options: If two options are opposite each other, chances are one of them is correct.
- Favor options that contain qualifiers. The result is longer, more inclusive items that better fill the role of the answer.
- If two alternatives seem correct, compare them for differences, and then refer to the stem to find your best answer.
- Don’t change your answers unless you are sure of the correction.
- Use hints from questions you know to answer questions you don’t know.
- When reviewing the test, make sure answers are properly marked.
- Make an outline before answering the question.
- Ask if spelling and grammar will be graded.
- Write neatly.
- If time is running out, include an outline or brief answer.
Test Anxiety: Get Rid of it.
- Go to bed early. If a child has studied well, there’s no need to “cram” all night. Being active earlier in the day (not right before bed) can help kids get to sleep.
- Eat healthy meals. This provides energy at test time. But eating a large meal right before the test is risky. Students need their bodies to focus on thinking, not digestion.
- Wear a favorite outfit. Your child should pick one that makes him/her feel confident and comfortable.
- Learn to relax. Some kids find it helpful to close their eyes and take a few deep breaths before a test. Others like to imagine a peaceful place, such as a beach.
- Be positive. Expecting to do well helps kids do well. Encourage your child to think positive thoughts, like “I can do it!” Also give compliments, such as “I’m proud of how hard you studied. I’ll bet your teacher will be, too!”
- Face fears. It’s normal to be worried about tests. But if your child seems too anxious, ask what he or she is afraid of. You may be able to reassure him or her. The teacher can help also.
- Be sure to communicate with your child after the test.