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Testing Study Skills

Testing Overview

Standardized tests play by slightly different rules, and students don’t get much practice with these other ways of thinking. The 4 Testing videos cover the most helpful test-taking strategies for SATs, ACTs, APs, and SBAC exams. Students need techniques that help them make sense of complex story questions and passages. Very often, simply remembering that you have a limited number of answer choices can make a question significantly easier. Standardized tests do not give you extra points for answering the “textbook” way. Take advantage of shortcuts to maximize points.

Working Backwards

Multiple choice tests play by different rules than most of the tests students take in school. This lesson teaches students how to adapt to the multiple choice format by working backwards when they’re confused. The answer choices can be more informative than the question. Students who frequently get stuck should write something on their page that reminds them to try working backwards — they’re not used to thinking this way!

Lesson [5:18]

1. Answers Give You Different Questions — confusing questions might be easier to understand if you focus on the differences between the answer choices; math story question

2. Answers Tell You What to Care About — SAT and ACT grammar questions do not give you a literal question at all, so students have no alternative but to use the answer choices to figure out what’s being tested

Worksheet — six SAT/ACT grammar questions; three math questions where the choices are easier to understand than the question

Review [34:09]

Process of Elimination

Every students knows about POE, but most of them are not using it correctly on standardized tests. This lesson shows students how to shift their focus from the long, confusing passages to the specific words in the answer choices. Understanding how POE truly works is a game-changer for any multiple choice reading test.

Lesson [5:57]

1. The Old Way to POE — students think POE is about crossing out answers that don’t feel right; instincts and feelings are not sufficient

2. The New Way to POE — break answer choices down into smaller choices where you evaluate specific words and phrases; stop looking for choices that feel 90% right, and start looking for the 10% that’s wrong

Worksheet — eight question SAT-style reading passage from Wuthering Heights

Review [32:39]


This is one of the most powerful math strategies for multiple choice and standardized tests. In this lesson, students will learn how to turn complicated algebra into arithmetic. This strategy will not work on in-school tests where you need to show your process, but Arithmetizing can help weaker math students solve difficult questions on standardized tests.

Lesson [7:31]

1. How to Arithmetize — a simple algebra question demonstrates the mechanics of the strategy 2. When to Arithmetize — compare a question where Arithmetizing isn’t possible to a difficult algebra question that is much easier with Arithmetize

3. Arithmetizing with a Calculator — a difficult trigonometry question is solved by making up a random angle measure

Worksheet — eight questions that can all be solved by Arithmetizing

Review [30:11]

Bubbling & Guessing

This lesson reviews some obvious and not-so-obvious strategies for multiple choice standardized tests. Students are encouraged to guess on every question and to use the bubble sheet to mark questions that they want to return to. They should not bubble all of their answers at the end, and they should not worry about getting lots of the same letter in a row. Multiple examples will demonstrate how to avoid “stupid” guesses to increase your odds on difficult questions.

Lesson [7:03]

1. Guess Smart, Not Stupid — interesting look at how standardized tests are designed; students can gauge the difficulty of a question to eliminate answers that are too easy

2. Using the Bubble Sheet — guess on everything; don’t leave blanks; don’t count the Bs; don’t bubble all of the answers at the end

Worksheet — seven difficult questions that have answers that are a little too easy; students practice eliminating those “stupid” guesses and increasing their odds

Review [23:25]