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Howard's Blog-Testing and Preparation

Hello! Just a tip or two about test-taking skills. The first rule to remember is that it is only a test. Some measure aptitude SAT), some measure achievement (ACT). Neither are a reflection of who you are, and the end of the day, you will be the same person. So, be positive, regardless of the test. You own the test; the test does not own you.

First, they are called standardized tests for a reason. The test you take is the same as the one being taken in Illinois, Utah, or Oregon, and if you wish to look at test-taking as a competitive event, that is your competition, not the people sitting in the the testing center with you. That is why test results come back in percentiles, quartiles, and even quintiles. There may be variations on a theme to prevent cheating, so do not do so. The testing permutations are selected by computer; you as the test-taker do not have a chance, even allowing for the law of probability, of guessing correctly which one you will receive.

Second, since the tests are standardized, they will come with four, possibly five potential answers. You have a 20-25% chance of getting the question answered correctly the second you lay eyes on it. The easiest way is to get the numbers on your side. At least one or two answers are absurdly wrong; toss them. do a run through and answer all the questions that you really do not have to think about. Then do another run through and eliminate the ones you are not sure of. All you will be left with is either a 50-50 chance, or a 75% chance of a correct answer. Now the numbers favor you. If all else fails, guess.

Third, it is an urban myth that the usual correct answer is "C". ANSWERS ARE RANDOMIZED, which does not mean A,B,C,D, repeat cycle. Or, A,A, B,B, C,C, and so forth. Randomized means A,A,A,A,A,B,B,B,D,D,D,D,D,D,C,C...

Fourth, there is a Beta sample in every standardized test, where potential questions are field tested for possible future use. They are not identified, and they are not confined to a particular section of an exam. They are scattered throughout the test itself.

Lastly, try to answer as many questions as possible. In a sense, you are set up to fail, since there are more questions than time allotted. However, you are not penalized for not answering all of the questions; only the ones you did. However, as a warning, do NOT just answer 10 or 12 questions out of 36, and then sit back. There are statistical formulas that denote lack of effort, and you do get penalized.

In short, review your notes for a couple of hours the night before, relax, go to bed. The next morning, get up, eat breakfast, even if you do not usually, quickly review your notes, then go to the testing center. Good Luck! (After all, many of you have been taking standardized tests since the third grade; you will be just fine!)