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Test-Taking Tips

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By Nancy Firchow, M.L.S.


  • Read the sentence carefully for clues about the type of information needed - a person's name, a number, a fact.
  • Watch for grammar clues. For example, the word "an" before the blank indicates that the answer starts with a vowel.
  • Notice the type of blanks in the sentence. One short blank calls for a single word answer. A longer blank indicates a longer answer, such as a phrase.


  • Scan the whole column of possible matches rather than stopping at the first likely answer.
  • Answer the questions she's sure of first.
  • Cross out choices as she uses them.
  • Keep going through the columns to make more matches.
  • Avoid guessing until she's absolutely stumped.

Essay Questions

  • Before writing, make an outline to organize main ideas and facts to include in the answer.
  • Focus on only one idea per paragraph.
  • State the main point in the first sentence of each paragraph.
  • Avoid unsupported statements - include relevant details and examples.
  • If time is running out, write at least an outline of the whole answer.

After the Test

Your child can learn almost as much from her mistakes on a test as from studying. Go over test results and read the teacher's comments. Look for patterns of errors to help in future studies.

  • Were questions left blank due to a lack of time? Help your child practice judging time needed and pacing her work.
  • Were any errors due to not following instructions? Remind her to read directions carefully and circle important words.
  • Were mistakes made because she didn't know the subject thoroughly? Next time, set aside more study time or try new study strategies.

When your child feels confident in her test-taking skills, she'll have less test anxiety and be able to focus on showing what she's learned - and that's what tests are all about.

Comments from readers

"these tips really work good thanks"