Top 15 Test Tips for Multiple Choice

Test Tips for Every Multiple Choice Test

I’m sure there are a number of things you’d rather be doing than learning test tips for a standardized test – getting your neck-skin caught in a zipper, dropping a brick on your foot, getting all of your molars pulled. You know – things that sound way more fun than sitting at a computer monitor staring at the Verbal Reasoning section of the GRE. In case you decide to forego major bodily damage in favor of scratching out a few answers to multiple-choice questions, read these general test tips before you head to the testing facility.

Specific test tips for the SAT, ACT, LSAT and GRE

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African American female teen studying with mom
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The first test tip (and most obvious) is to prepare yourself for your test. You’ll feel much better if you know what you’re up against. Take a class, hire a tutor, buy the book, go online. Prep before you go, so you’re not riddled with test anxiety about what’s coming. Here's a headstart on a few standardized tests:

SAT Prep | ACT Prep | GRE Prep | LSAT Prep

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Know the Procedures

Memorize the test directions beforehand, because direction-reading time counts against your testing time.

You may feel nauseous before a test, but studies prove that consuming brain food like eggs or green tea before completing a brain-draining task like test-taking can improve your score.  A good choice? Try a turkey and cheese omelet. Eating brain food is just one of the 5 things you should do on test day to prepare! More »

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Wear Comfortable Clothes

Test day is not the time to squeeze into your super-skinny jeans. If you’re uncomfortable, your brain will expend precious energy bothering you to fix the problem. Go with your favorite broken-in jeans in case the air is cranking. Avoid "cozy" clothes - you know, the sweats  you sleep in. You want to be alert, not succumbing to the ambient noise of the radiator.

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Exercise Beforehand

Speedy legs = speedy brain. Research shows that by utilizing this test tip - exercise - you can improve the performance of the brain by boosting memory and processing speed. Cool, huh? So take a run around the block before test time.

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Practice Yoga

It’s not just for granola-lovers. Yoga is one way that greatly helps your body de-stress, and high levels of stress can negatively affect your test performance. So, kick off your shoes, take a deep breath, and swan-dive into the downward dog the morning of your test.

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Create Your Environment

At the testing site, select a seat away from the door and near the back of the room (fewer interruptions). Avoid the air conditioning vent, pencil sharpener, and the coughers. Bring a bottle of water to avoid having to get up if you’re thirsty.
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Start Easy

If you’re taking a pencil-and-paper test, answer all the easy questions first, and leave the longer reading sections until last. You’ll gain confidence and extra points.
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If you’re don’t understand a tough question, try rephrasing it or reordering the words to help it make sense.
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Cover the Answers

On a multiple-choice test, answer the question in your head with the choices covered. Once you’ve made a guess, uncover the answers and see if you can find a paraphrase of what you just thought.

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Use a process of elimination to get rid of answers you know are wrong, like answers using extremes (always, never), generalizations, similar-sounding words, and anything else that seems off.

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Use Your Pencil

Physically cross off wrong answer choices so you won’t be tempted to reconsider them. On a computer-adaptive test, write down the letter choices on a scrap sheet, and cross them off as you take the test on the computer. You’ll increase the probability of getting the answer correct if you can get rid of even one choice.

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Trust Yourself

Your instincts are usually right; at the end of the exam when you’re reviewing the multiple-choice answers you’ve selected, don’t change anything. Statistically, your first choice is the correct answer.
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Make it Legible

If your handwriting has ever been compared to chicken scratch, go back through your written answers and rewrite any word that could be inscrutable. If a scorer can’t read it, you won’t be getting points for it.
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Cross Check Ovals

It can happen to you – you’ve finished the test and realize you skipped a question or oval completely. Make sure your questions and ovals all line up, or you can end up failing the test on a technicality. A great strategy is to check your ovals every ten questions, so if you make a mistake, you won't have 48 questions to erase.