Test-Taking Strategies

HVS Counselor Newsletter

Test-taking is an area of concern that is often brought up with school counselors. Whether it’s a classroom test or a standardized test such as the upcoming PSAT/SAT assessments, knowing some test-taking strategies can help students to feel more confident and to perform their best.

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Be Prepared

When it comes to test-taking, there is no substitute for preparation. Students should:

  • Be aware of what the test will cover.

  • Study daily by reviewing notes and assigned work and readings.

  • Eat a healthy breakfast (high in protein, low in sugar) the morning of the test.

  • Leave time to relax before the test by taking some deep breaths, giving themselves a pep talk (you can do it!) and practicing muscle relaxation strategies.

Strategies for Multiple Choice Questions

  • Try to think about the correct answer before looking at the answer options. This can help you to avoid distractors.

  • If you’re unsure of an answer, read all options and cross off the ones you know are incorrect. This will help you to hone in on the correct answer.

  • Don’t panic! If there are questions for which you do not know the answer, skip them and move on. Your brain will continue to think about questions as you continue working. Come back to the more challenging questions later.

  • If you’re stuck on a math question, try plugging answers into the problem instead of solving the problem to get the answer.

Strategies for True-False Questions

  • Watch for words such as “always”, “never”, “all”, or “none”. These statements are often false.

Strategies for Matching Questions

  • Start with the column that contains the definition or explanation and match it to the single word. This will save you time.

  • Leave difficult definitions for last after you’ve eliminated answer choices by making easy matches.

Strategies for Essay Questions

  • Do a “mind dump” at the beginning of the test, writing down any formulas or other information (i.e. 5 factors that lead to a particular battle, verb conjugation chart for Language class) that may be helpful for you during the test

  • Answer all questions. The only way to ensure you won’t pick up any points on a question is to not answer it.

  • Learn from the test. Often answers to test questions can be found in other test questions.

  • For math questions, double-check your answers to make sure you did not make any simple errors such as forgetting a sign. When possible, check your work by plugging answers back into the problem.

School Happenings:

Khan Academy Challenge: Milford High School students are being encouraged by counselors, administrators, and teachers to link their PSAT scores to Khan Academy. Doing so provides personalized SAT practice opportunities for students. Students can log hours spend practicing on Khan Academy. Students who log at least 8 hours are eligible for prizes.

In February, middle school counselors worked with eighth grade students to help prepare them for their first PSAT. Counselors:

  • Taught students test-taking strategies

  • Worked through sample questions with students so they know what to expect

  • Taught strategies for overcoming test anxiety


Resources for Parents and Students