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The ABC's of the 123's - Math Test Taking Tips

Updated on July 9, 2012

Tests are increasingly gaining dominance over the average school day in classrooms from elementary through high school. Tips for surviving and passing tests are useful to test takers for preparedness, confidence building, and removing anxieties.

A – Always do the following before beginning any test.

  • Listen to and follow all oral and written directions given by the proctor or teacher. Ask questions for clarity and understanding.
  • Read directions. Never start working on test items before reading and understanding what you are being asked to do.
  • Read all test items carefully before answering each. Identify details that are useful for finding the answer by highlighting, underlining, writing down, or marking relevant details. You want to pull those details out or draw attention to them, so that you are not distracted by too much information and details that are irrelevant for solving the problem.
  • Read all answer choices before selecting an answer on multiple choice tests. Usually, there are 2 answers that are very similar. Without carefully examining all choices, the incorrect answer choice (while similar) may be selected; instead of the correct answer.
  • Reread question or statement if you do not understand it the first time. If after carefully reading it a second time and you still don’t understand it; skip it and come back to it later. Never make a blind-guess just for the sake of having answered the question. Likewise, spending too much time on a problem that you are struggling to understand will cause you to lose confidence in your ability to pass the test. You will need to keep your level of confidence high to complete and pass the test.
  • Show your work and check your work. One careless mistake in math will cause the whole answer to be wrong.

B – Be prepared to use every strategy, skill, and tip that you know and have been taught. Never make up any ‘new found’ methods, rules, and principles for solving problems at testing time. Use what you have been taught. The format may change, but the rules remain the same. Some test taking strategies are:

  • Model or draw out the problem so that you can see what it looks like and better understand what you are being asked and how to get to the correct answer.
  • Eliminate incorrect answer choices on multiple choice tests. Usually 2 answer choices are obviously incorrect and 2 are very similar. Use process of elimination and educated guessing to distinguish between correct and incorrect answer choices.
  • Make notes from memory of formulas, mnemonic devices, and other related information on your scratch paper so that it will be visible and available to you when needed. Once you write it down, you then clear your mind of trying to remember the information for when you need it.
  • Make sure you have studied and prepared beforehand for tests. Take advantage of all study guides, study materials, reviews, practices, study groups, textbooks, online resoureces, etc prior to testing.
  • Guess and check by trying an answer choice. Plug the selected answer choice back into the number sentence to see if it makes the number sentence true. If it doesn’t, select a different answer.
  • Double check your work and your answers. Use your time wisely. Never sit and wait after you have finished until you have double checked your work.
  • Use mental math when you are able to do so. This saves time; time that you can use after completing the test to go back and check your answers.
  • Concentrate and stay focused throughout the test from start to finish. Do not concern yourself with how quickly or slowly others around you are finishing.

C – Consideration should be given to the following factors during testing:

  • Time. Is this a timed test? If so, pace yourself so that you do not spend too much time on a particular test item. Do not be overly concerned with time such that it creates nervousness or anxiety; but remain mindful that you do not have time to waste.
  • Make sure that you have applied the tips from sections A and B above.
  • What will happen when you pass the test? How will that make you feel? What outcomes are affected by you passing the test? Stay confident during testing.
  • Make sure that you are following and complying with testing procedures from start to finish, and that you do not do anything that would be misconstrued as cheating.

There will be those times when test takers may have to retake a test, just remember that it is not the end of the world. Get yourself up, dust yourself off, apply the ABC’s of test taking and wait confidently for the good news that you have passed the test!


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    • YvetteParker profile image

      YvetteParker 5 years ago from AUGUSTA, GA

      dmop, you drove the point home; so to speak. That's the important key that many fail to understand. It's not necessarily about knowing EVERY answer to every question on a test to pass it; but more about knowing and applying GREAT test taking skills and strategies. Thanks so much for your comments!

    • dmop profile image

      dmop 5 years ago from Cambridge City, IN

      You have some great advice in this article. I think any test taker could benefit from reading and following your plan. I have always been good at tests, even when I don't know the answer the process of elimination and staying calm usually leads me to the correct answer. I gave this a vote up and useful.

    • YvetteParker profile image

      YvetteParker 5 years ago from AUGUSTA, GA

      Meow48, I am delighted that you enjoyed this article. Thank you for your kindness and for your time in reading and commenting on it.

    • meow48 profile image

      meow48 5 years ago from usa

      thankyou for your hub. it was interesting, take care.