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Judicator's Guide to Standardized Tests

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Joined: 27 Aug 2007
Posts: 696

PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2012 7:33 pm    Post subject: Judicator's Guide to Standardized Tests Reply with quote

disclaimer: I'm mostly posting this because the site it was originally on was taken down. I figured it should be saved for posterity. So if it helps you, awesome, but I probably won't watch for questions too closely.

Guide to Standardized Tests

Table of Contents
I. Introduction
II. Preparation
...II.a. The night before
...II.b. The morning of
...II.c. Right before
III. Finding the Answer
...III.a. Your first attack: context
...III.b. Narrow your options
...III.c. Keep it between the lines
...III.d. Alternate answers
...III.e. Recognizing trick questions
...III.f. Know your test

I. Introduction

Thanks for taking a look at my attempt to make the world a better place. I've always found test-taking easy and I've always been thought of as one of the "smart kids". This is not because I study hard or because I'm inherently smarter than anyone else(I am though (IMG:style_emoticons/smileys/biggrin.gif)). This is because I know how to take tests. I've learned how to study, how to prepare, and how to figure out the answers I don't know. I hope that many people can take advantage of this and get better grades for less work.
I'm not going to delve into studying during this guide, but if enough people would like a guide to power studying, I will probably write it another time. For the rest of this guide, I will assume that you have done a fair amount of studying.

II. Preparation

II.a. The night before
Put that book down! Studying time is over. I have some wonderful news for you: the night before a big test is all about relaxation. Right now you need to totally unstress. If possible, find an attractive person to spend some "quality time" with. However, I would not recommend using mind-altering substances if that's your thing. Tonight is yours, but you don't want a hangover tomorrow. You want to be asleep tonight by 12 hours prior. So if your test is at noon, be in bed at midnight or before. Set your alarm to gie you 8 hours, but don't be afraid to take 9 or even 10.

II.b. The morning of
Wake up sunshine, time to get back to work. First things first, take a long, hot shower. Follow this up with a big breakfast(I highly recommend Cracker Barrel). During breakfast you'll want more carbs than usual and some protein as well. After breakfast, do a quick review. If you have notes, study them. If your studying from a book, read all of the bold words and all of the picture captions. Don't try to start from scratch, just refresh your memory.

II.c. Right before
If you have any addictions like nicotine, caffeine, or....harder.....stuff, take care of them now. You don't want to get the DT's in the middle of your SAT. Take this last opportunity to perform any bodily functions whether you need to or not. 2 hours from now, you'll thank me. Get one last stretch in, and it's time to go.

III. Finding the Answer

III.a. Your first attack: context
So you found that first stumper question. Scan the rest of the questions for key words from this one. Carefully read the questions to gain context clues about the one you're trying to answer. Many times, the most difficult questions will be answered for you only one or two questions later! Here's an example from my Algebra 3 CLEP test:

17. The square root of -1 is known as: a.i b.o c.e d.x
20. i * 7i = ?: a.7 b.70 c.-7 d.-700

In this case I didn't know what the square root of -1 was, but by reading question 20, I realized that there was a variable caaled "i" and that it had a relation to either 1, -1, 10, or -100. Each of the questions gave me the answer to the other.

III.b. Narrow your options
If you couldn't find context clues to help answer your question, it's time to make your life easier. Rather than beat your head against a wall trying to get the right answer, let's get rid of the wrong answers. I'll give you another example to illustrate this:

35. Feline is an example of:

In this biology question, I can immediately rule out d.Friend. It has nothing to do with Biology and is clearly a "filler answer". After more thought I realize that while I don't know what they are, I'm certain I've heard the terms Genus and Family at some point. I'll rule out Novus, since I don't have any idea at all what it is. I'm left with 2 answers. maybe you're still not sure which one is right, but a 50% guess is a lot better than 25%. What if question 20 from above looked like this:

20. i * 7i = ?: a.7 b.-30 c.-7 d.-700

I hope you realized to rule out that -30 right away.

III.c. Keep it between the lines
So you ruled out one of the answers, but you're still faced with a guess and the odds are against you. Keep it between the lines and get rid of the highest and lowest answer. If neither of these was one that you ruled out already, you'll have one answer that is a truly "educated" guess. This method is hardly fool-proof, but it will improve your odds on questions where you have to guess.

III.d. Alternate answers
Let's restate question 35 this time:

35 Feline is an example of:
a. Family
b. Species
c. Novus
d. None of the above

Here's another way to improve your odds on tough questions. When faced with answers like "None of the above", "All of the above", "The premise of this question is false", they will be correct 2 times out of every 3. That's huge! If you don't know the answer, there's a better chance that the alternate answer is correct than that any other answer is. Again this is not fool-proof, but it gives you much better odds.

III.e. Recognizing trick questions
Look for clues when reading your question and answers that you might be getting tricked. Read questions carefully. Often a true/false question will have 2 words switched which completely change the meaning. Particularly when using the "Alternate answer" method, make sure it's not too good to be true.

III.f. Know your test
When using the methods outlined above, keep in mind what test you're taking. If it's a pop quiz, there will certainly be trick questions. If it's your Final Exam, try to know a bit about your teacher. Is (s)he the type of person who wants everyone to pass or the kind who wants to make sure you learned everything? If you're taking a Standardized test like the SAT or ACT, the odds on each of these methods goes up: that's why they're standardized.

Put a little thought into who is giving the test and why. You'll find that your educated guesses are more educated and you don't have to know the answer to get the question right.
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Level 3 Judge

Joined: 03 Oct 2004
Posts: 335

PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2012 5:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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