Use these test-taking strategies to boost your grade on a short answer, multiple-choice, and essay-style tests, including the SAT and ACT.

Test-taking can be a very daunting and challenging task for many people. Even if you’re a good student, the excellent grade you deserve can be destroyed by a moment’s insecurity during a test. However, there are specific strategies you could take advantage of to streamline your test-taking process, reduce test anxiety and boost your grade.

Good Study Habits

Studying is equivalent to good grades. Many people face concerning studying because they don’t necessarily know how to do it OK—those of you who get frustrated easily when hours of meticulous study seem to get you nowhere. The fundamental problem may lie not in your desire to succeed or in your intelligence but in your study habits.

Luckily, there are several tricks to studying that can make it significantly easier and possibly even enjoyable. Practicing good study habits can help you absorb information faster, boost your morale, and leave you with more confidence during the test.

Know When to Move On

If you come to a question about drawing a blank, circle it and move on immediately. Staying on one problem for a long time loses you points in the long-run. Time spent obsessing over a question you’re unsure about is time you could be spending answering other questions that you know for certain. Often, people will come across the answer to another question later on in the test.

If you’re unsure because it seems as though more than of your options could be correct, choose the one that seems more pronounced. Usually, one answer you feel in your gut is accurate, and a few others confuse you. Most of the time, the professor is not trying to trick you, and the ambiguous wording was accidental. If you really can’t bring yourself to choose one, there is no harm in asking your professor to clarify what they were asking.

Narrow Down Your Options

Most of the time, there are a few choices that are very obviously incorrect. Sometimes, even if you don’t know the answer, you can find it by process of elimination. Cross out the solutions you know are wrong, and if you can’t narrow the responses down to one, move on.

As you continue the test, you will narrow down further the answers to previous questions based on the answers to later ones. When you’re finished, cross-examine all your responses and make sure there are no contradictions.

Guessing Strategies

Sometimes you notice yourself bound with a question that you have no trace how to respond. None of your options seem incorrect, and you can find no clues anywhere else in the exam. In this rare instance, choose C.

Statistically speaking, ‘C’ is more frequently the correct response than any other option. It has to do with the fact that humans are terrible at doing things randomly. We like patterns, and your teachers are no exception.

In trying to disguise the correct answer, teachers tend not to want to put it first or last in a list. They feel that the answer is better concealed if it’s in the middle somewhere, hidden between other things. It leads to option ‘C’ being correct slightly more often than other options.

Over time, teachers have noticed this trend. As a result, many necessary tests such as the SAT and professional exams are written with a computer’s help so that correct answers are more randomly distributed. However, most regular school tests were probably written on a word processor by your professor, in which case you can exploit this trend to your advantage.


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