Tips for Doing Well on Standardized Tests

Your first standardized test is scheduled; you aren’t a good test taker but you want to do really well.  Does this sound like you?

Many students, not just you, dread standardized tests and while there is no magic way to ace them, there are some things you can do to make sure you are completely prepared and ready when the day finally comes.

Ideally, you will begin preparing for standardized tests near the end of your sophomore year since you will be taking them your junior year but there are also some last minute things you can do if you are one of those that started late.  As much as you may think standardized tests are not important and a waste of time, if you are planning to go to college they really can make or break your acceptance.  Aside from that, doing well on the ACT or SAT can help you get scholarship money.

With that being said, here are a few tips for preparing for standardized tests.


When taking the SAT, it is important to know that you DO get penalized for having wrong answers.  The test makers will put answer choices that they know will trick the test taker.  During the test then, you should guess but only after eliminating choices and trying to narrow it down as much as possible.  A good tip is to com prepared with a letter that you will continuously put when guessing.  Then, if you end up eliminating that one, you can guess the next letter.  Having a set letter that you will give as your answer can help you avoid the “trap” that the test makers set up to trick you.


The ACT is different because test takers are not penalized for guessing.  You will do better on this exam if you guess for every question rather than leaving some blank.  Also, since this is a timed exam and you are often given lengthy articles to evaluate, it is a good idea to use practice books beforehand to get the hang of it.

Some General Tips

The ACT and SAT are simply tests of your reasoning skills and how well you can take standardized exams.  Know what the schools you want to attend require and aim for that since it is more attainable than a perfect score.

Next, start preparing as early as possible.  There is no way you will be able to learn everything that will be on the exams, but you will be able to get familiar with the layout of these tests.  Practicing before hand will also get you used to taking timed tests and get you acquainted with the style of questions that you can expect.

Finally, take a deep breath!  Standardized tests are stressful and everyone wants to do well on them, just remember that your test scores are just one of the many things that college admission offices look at.  So go, start preparing, stay calm and good luck!

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Laura Szatkowski

Laura Szatkowski

Laura Szatkowski is a senior at Central Michigan University studying public relations and English. Laura enjoys being busy, juggling work and school, and has plans to one day spend her time traveling abroad. When not busy, Laura, the middle child of three girls, enjoys shopping and spending time with her friends and family.
Laura Szatkowski

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