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Test Taking Advice

Test Taking Advice

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Published by: samthegirl9 on Apr 27, 2012
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Test TakingTest Taking
 Advice Advice
BySamantha R. Selman
 April 26, 2012
 
Almost everyone comes face to face with a test at some point in their lives. They dread it for weeks, evenmonths, until “test day” comes and they finally get the chance to test their wits against the test makers. I myself havetaken pencil in hand, sat down at a table, and worked through countless problems, countless times. I have succeededat some and failed at others. However, after a certain number of exams your mind changes. You may begin to think of these tests as “games”. Tests are basically that – games that build your confidence, test your abilities and rewardyour patience. They can also have negative effects (loss of sleep comes to mind), but in most cases the rewardoutweighs the struggle. Exams give you the opportunity to get better paying jobs, get accepted into better schoolsand colleges and become recognized for your efforts. This essay is designed to rid you of the fears leading up to testday, as well as give helpful advice on the methods you could use to tackle the tests easily and effectively.There are four important elements of good test mentality: test awareness, practice, confidence and a relaxedattitude. Know what you’ll be studying in the test – not what questions they will be asking (there is no way to knowthat) – but what subjects you will be working with. I remember the first time I took W3School’s HTML (Hyper-TextMarkup Language) exam. I had not prepared as much as I could have, I had not read their lessons more than once,and I failed. Luckily, their website gives test-takers two tries, and the second time I succeeded. What had I done thesecond time that I failed to do the first time? I practiced. I re-read their lessons, worked out the examples and codedsome independent projects. With any subject, be it mathematics or HTML, practice helps you comprehend thesubject. Also, be sure to focus on areas with which you have the most trouble. Confidence helps keep the test-taker from losing his or her nerve. I know from experience that being nervous makes a person more likely to fail. Keep inmind that if you have studied, re-read and practiced the material, there is nothing that should keep you fromsucceeding. However, the over-confident test-taker is just as likely to fail as the nervous one. Be confident, but don’tthink every one of your answers are going to be correct; this rarely, if ever, happens. Finally, while taking the test itis important to keep a relaxed attitude. Do not lose your nerve. Look at every test as a challenge and an opportunityto expand your horizons.There are several “tricks” that the test makers use to confuse test takers. The first are the wrong answer traps.For example, in the PCAT exam there are four possible answers, only one of which is correct. There are usually twothat are logical twists on the right answer, one that the test-taker knows is wrong immediately and the one which iscorrect. Average test-takers usually become torn between two answers. One way to prevent this is by calculating thecorrect answer before looking at the possible answers. Read the information provided in the equation or passage,cover the answers with your hand, work out the problem if needed and then pick the one from the provided answersthat matches or is closest to your answer. Another trick is the “confusing” question. This is aimed towards test takerswho do not take the time to completely analyze the question and instead jump to conclusions. If you are not sureabout what the passage or equation is asking you to do, take it apart one instruction at a time until you are certain.Another strategy test makers use is making the questions increasingly more difficult as you go along. This allowsyou to get comfortable with the test; however, some find that this makes the test more difficult. Feel free to tacklethe difficult questions first if that helps, but do not leave a blank space on the grid. Often, the questions you leaveunanswered are counted as incorrect and in effect takes away from your score. If you “skip around” on tests, becareful when transferring answers to the grid. Make sure that if the answer to question 23 is A you are not markingquestion 22 as A.The PCAT, GED and SAT tests contain sections for mathematical reasoning, reading comprehension, grammar skills (or writing skills) and science. Each one will test your ability to use reasoning despite the titles of the sections.First, let us look at mathematical reasoning. These tests often include many word problems as well as equations andsimplification problems. In my experience, the most difficult things to work with in mathematical reasoning are theword problems. Throughout school we are presented with text books containing problems for us to solve andsimplify; as long as we know the procedures used to simplify them, these are simple. Word problems, on the other hand, present us with several pieces of information, ask us to put them into mathematical form and then deduct asolution. For example, look at the question on the next page:

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