10 Crucial Test-Taking Tips
Updated: Feb 5
Check out HT's advice on how to ace the test.
LEADING UP TO TEST DAY
Sleep: Get a good night’s sleep not only the night before the exam, but two or three nights before test day as well.
Don’t Cram: The days and hours immediately preceding the test should be calm. It is not advisable to do last-minute studying/test prep, though staying mentally alert is a good idea. Do a bit of light reading, and maybe review some final equations and strategies. Nothing too rigorous.
Business As Usual: On the morning of the test, don’t try to suddenly institute anything new. Go through your usual morning routine, thinking positive thoughts and reminding yourself how much work you have put in leading up to this moment. You have great reason to feel confident and prepared.
Take A Hike: Dress for the test as if you are going on a hike. You never know what the temperature in the testing room will be like, and you don’t want to be distracted by a consistent chill or feeling overheated, so dress in layers. Bring a bottle of water and a watch.
Be The Early Bird: On test day, do everything a bit early. The goal is to minimize any chance for surprising bouts of anxiety, so plan to leave home early so that you don’t get stressed about subways or traffic. Aim to arrive early so you have a few minutes to decompress before walking into the test.
DURING THE TEST
Forget Memorizing: Write down all memorized equations immediately upon sitting for the test, so that you don’t have to keep them in your head during the exam.
Use Your Tools: You’ve been learning and mastering strategies for months. Now it’s time to use them! Remind yourself of the tricks you have up your sleeve, and be sure to employ as many of your perfected tools as possible.
Beautiful Bubbles: Skipping difficult questions, with the intention of returning to them later, is a great strategy! But, be sure to put a dot next to the skipped question on your bubble sheet so that you don’t botch your entire answer grid. Remember to erase the dots on your bubble sheet at the end of the test.
Ignore Your Score – Don’t worry about how the test seems to be going in its entirety, but instead focus on tackling each question and section to the best of your ability. If you hit a rough patch, don’t let an intimidating string of questions infect ensuing sections. Stay committed to the moment, and the overall score will work itself out.
Exhaust Yourself: A proper test-taking experience should be draining. The goal is not to simply get through the test, but to actually give every ounce of focus and effort you have, leaving no room for “I guess I could have tried harder.” Give it everything that you’ve got!
The Test Doesn’t Take You
YOU TAKE THE TEST
A frequently forgotten, yet tremendously significant, element of test taking is attitude. Many students, despite being adequately prepared, enter a test feeling nothing short of timid, hesitant and panicked. Obviously, these are not ideal postures to assume as a test-taker, but students also should not aim to be completely placid and tranquil during an exam, either. In order for students to reach their testing potential, they have to be aggressive.
Standardized tests are not designed as opportunities for students to simply display what they know. They are intended to highlight students’ abilities to put their knowledge to use in conjunction with logical reasoning, strategic maneuvering and unwavering poise, moxie and mettle. This sense of composure is vital, and a student who enters a standardized test prepared to display grit instead of jitters will see stunning results.
This is why we remind our students that the test does not take them; they take the test. The lifeless sheets of paper dwelling aimlessly on a desk will not stifle a child’s ability to apply strategies, manage a clock or remain focused. These actions are solely up to the test-taker. In order to overcome the internal challenges that regularly arise during an entrance exam, a student must be active, assertive and forceful.