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x-JuDiCaToR-x's Guide to Standardized Tests

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#1 x-JuDiCaToR-x


    I would put something clever here, but you wouldn't get it

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 10:16 AM

x-JuDiCaToR-x's 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 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.

#2 TheSilentShadow


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Posted 14 December 2006 - 09:19 PM

Very nice..this advice may seem like common sense but a lot of people don't follow it.

  One thing you might want to add is, In math tests, often you can substitute the answers back into the original question as a way of solving the problem. It's not the most ingenious method, but it works if you cant find a better way.
  Also, studies have shown that chewing gum boosts concentration levels..so If you can, carry a pack of gum with you. I've found that it definitely helps me keep my focus over long periods.

#3 Chama-Tan


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Posted 15 December 2006 - 01:38 AM

I've noticed in my test-taking experiences, that it's far more important to learn up the basic concepts rather than specific facts e.g. if you were being tested on neurons, you're more likely to be asked "What is the function of glial cells?" than "How many glial cells are there in a typical human?"

Also, more pointers:
+ Learn your lecturers and teachers. Find out what sorts of questions they'll ask, based on what they've been saying in lectures/classes. Sometimes, they'll be as blunt as saying that particular material will be in the exam. If they are that blunt, then follow their advice! In any case, that's why recorders are useful, because then you can just listen to the lecture/class again and track down what's been said.
+ Steal notes from previous years if you want a head start in your subject. Sure, not everything from the previous years will be present in the current syllabus, but most of it will be.
+ Take note of what questions are in the previous exams. However, if there are questions that are in old exams that aren't in your current notes, don't bother about them: most likely the lecturer/teacher never even touched it during classes anyway :/. For some reason, I had to reassure my friends that some questions weren't going to appear on the exam (and I was correct)
+ Remember to check your materials before the exam. How would you feel if you forgot to bring in your ID Card when asked, and consequently kicked out of the exam room? Oh yeah, and, most universities are not very forgiving about that!

Edited by tama_chan, 15 December 2006 - 01:40 AM.

#4 daedae



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Posted 16 December 2006 - 07:51 AM

Good guide. Sorry to be annoying but:

ollow this up with a big breakfast(I highly recommend Cracker Barrel)

I'd recomment full english breakfast, works wonders for me smile.gif

Also i found quite funny:

1) The maths question, which is meant to be an example of "the most difficult questions"
2) How you state to be "intelligent" (if i read correctly), yet have no knowledge of i?

Edited by daedae, 16 December 2006 - 07:52 AM.

#5 x-JuDiCaToR-x


    I would put something clever here, but you wouldn't get it

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 12:30 AM

The questions are not meant to be particularly difficult, they're only to illustrate a point.  And believe it or not I really did learn what i was while taking the Algebra 3 CLEP test by reading for context clues.

As for breakfast:
Cracker Barrel > All

#6 bah



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Posted 17 December 2006 - 09:16 AM

My technique of pwning tests:  Play a game or two of DotA the day before the test, play another game in the morning a few hours before the test, and then play after the test and give yourself a pat on the back.  It works.

Of course, understanding the topic and reading it up several years beforehand helps too.  Reading beyond the textbook ftw.

#7 DarkFangUn1ted



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Posted 27 December 2006 - 12:16 PM

Umm, yeah.  Bring food to the testing site, because in most tests that take 1.5 hours or longer, you will get hungry.  If they dont allow food, bring it anyways, just in like winter wear a big coat and stuff food into your pockets.

Also, always bring 2 #2 pencils with you.  I have had my 1 pencil break and waste 10 min running to another room to get one (that room had no extra pencils.)

#8 Alvito



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Posted 31 December 2006 - 08:49 AM

This guide is stupid and is based merely on the OP's experience.  For me studying the night before is the only way for me to succeed.

#9 x-JuDiCaToR-x


    I would put something clever here, but you wouldn't get it

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 02:13 AM

Suit yourself.  Go get that B- the hard way tough guy.

#10 Spacewhizguy


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Posted 03 January 2007 - 09:31 PM

One of my previous teachers gave me a cool tip. Study your notes and textbooks until the very last minute (until the teacher comes to your desk if need be). Then keep repeating the information in your head. Once the test starts, immediately write down the information. This is great for helping you with formulas in math, dates in history, and things like that.

#11 <3


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Posted 04 January 2007 - 10:50 PM

QUOTE(Spacewhizguy @ Jan 3 2007, 09:31 PM) View Post

One of my previous teachers gave me a cool tip. Study your notes and textbooks until the very last minute (until the teacher comes to your desk if need be). Then keep repeating the information in your head. Once the test starts, immediately write down the information. This is great for helping you with formulas in math, dates in history, and things like that.

That's almost exactly what I do with Latin pardigms.

#12 Velocity


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Posted 05 January 2007 - 10:05 AM

Here's an example from my Algebra 3 CLEP test:

In this case I didn't know what the square root of -1

I lost faith in your guide at this point.

lol, I'm kidding. (Well not really) It's a nice guide and your hard work is well appreciated.

For me, (17 year old grade 12 IB Student in Ontario, Canada) it's a matter of studying before hand, preferably a week before the test though sometimes I'm unable to do that and have only 2 days.

In any case, I go over the textbook(s) and the teacher's notes and then transcribe it into my own notes. I make sure everything makes sense. If ever there's a discrepancy, I ask the teacher to clarify that or research it on my own. I don't understand how some students can memorize concepts without understanding them.

If there are definitions, or concepts that can be summed up in a 3 lines of a definition, I type em all out and print it. (Although due to my nature, I keep the font small, borders large, and print double sided because I'm one of those tree-huggers.) I then pace back and forth until it's lodged in my brain. Hell if you can memorize every hero and every skill and how to use every skill in dota, 2 pages of definitions ain't a challenge.

Diagrams I draw over and over, and use my own imagination to supplement. For example, last year, I kept on referring to my diagram of glucose as a fish-bulb. Don't ask me to explain why, it's silly and not worth it.

So yeah, that's how I do biology tests.

lol I find diff. methods for diff. types of tests.

For English, I listen to Muse all day...

Edited by Velocity, 05 January 2007 - 10:24 AM.

#13 x-JuDiCaToR-x


    I would put something clever here, but you wouldn't get it

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 09:55 PM

Believe it or not, the -1/i story was a true one(though the question was manufactured, it was a long time ago).

I never took the class.  But since I'm good in math, I figured it would be cheaper and faster to simply take the exam.

Some of the things you described are great studying methods, that simply wasn't what I wanted to explain here as there are such a wide variety of effective methods.  Particularly transcribing teacher notes into my own words is very effective for me.

#14 HS]ultraman



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Posted 05 February 2007 - 05:44 PM

I use different strategies for different subjects.

For History, Geography, Philosophy and Sociology I often do this :

a) xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

b ) xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

c) xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

d) xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

e) xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

I eliminate a right away because they want you to read everything, If A was correct you would read only 1 alternative and it would be an easy test. Then I Look at E and D and then I pick the biggest answer. I got a 60% percentage once doing this. Took me 5 minutes to do a test with 40 questions.

Edited by HS]ultraman, 05 February 2007 - 05:46 PM.

#15 dadads



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Posted 08 February 2007 - 01:06 AM

If you're stuck on multiple choice and need to increase the odds of getting a correct answer, here's a gambling system that actually worked for me:

- For non-math questions, pick the answer that stood out of others.
e.g. having its own different topic
- Choices that contain the most detail / the longest is often the right answer.
- "None of the above" is rarely the correct answer.
- If you happen to have a dictated multiple choice by your teacher, listen carefully to his/her intonation. Most of the time, the correct answer should have the intonation slightly raised (without him/her realizing it).

#16 king4hao


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Posted 12 February 2007 - 07:16 AM

For study subjects like geography,history,it all about reading and understanding the content.Especially for geography,having a bit of common sense won't harm as you can always think of logical answer on the spots
For history,having a timeline of the happening is quite nice way for revision.

Practice subjects like maths is about revision of worksheets and practicing them once over. In facts,they are easiest to score if you understand the rationale behind the formula. Also,maths questions are kinda mainstream, which have few fixed methods to solve and teachers are not allow to set test with those funny question which involve alot of critical thinking.
The thing about math is that you cant study last minute.

#17 x-JuDiCaToR-x


    I would put something clever here, but you wouldn't get it

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 02:41 PM

Thank you all so much for reading this and adding your thoughts.  I hope it has been useful to some of you.

#18 Ironfisto


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Posted 20 April 2007 - 10:13 AM

For an open book exam ...(yes you get those in the later parts of your study life),
What I do is study the content page! LoL.

#19 Aprudds



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Posted 21 April 2007 - 11:58 AM

Nice advice although some of it seems kind of obvious, although I do not agree with 2/3 times all of the above type answers will be correct. It might just be me but it always seems those answers are there to throw you off and confuse you.

#20 Tomahawk Chop

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Posted 06 June 2007 - 05:30 AM

Nice guide.. Well im off for my spanish final!

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