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Against the Clock

Against the Clock

Taking standardized tests is tough but, if you prepare properly, it can be a lot less stressful!

Elizabeth Hoyt

February 23, 2014

Pacing yourself during standardized tests can be a difficult task. Your adrenaline is at an all-time high, not to mention your nerves.

So how do you keep your cool during this difficult task to show what you really know and complete such lengthy exams?

Here are some helpful timing tips to help guide you along during the process of standardized test-taking:

Practice Your Test-Taking Skills

To help get you comfortable with the test-taking process, take practice tests until you’re familiar with your pace and feel you will be able to comfortable answer all the questions within the set time period. That way, when the actual test comes around, you won’t be scrambling for time at the end.

Have a Goal in Mind

Give yourself a target and figure out how many questions you will have to answer correctly in order to get that score on the exam.

For example, in order to gain a score of 23 on the ACT science test, a student needs to get 27 questions correct.

If you figure out how many questions you need to answer correctly, you will be able to go through and choose which questions to spend more time on and which questions you have the probability of answering correctly.

Don’t Sit on One Question

If you don’t know an answer, skip it. Go through the easier questions first and return to the more difficult questions at the end of the exam. There’s no use wasting most of your time debating over one question when you could be answering many more within the set time period.That way, when the actual test comes around, you won’t be scrambling for time at the end.

To Guess or Not to Guess?

Don’t guess on the SAT because incorrect answers cost a quarter point. The ACT, however, does not penalize for wrong answers. Make sure to fill in all answers at the end, even if you’re not finished.

Base Your Pace

Depending on which section of the test you’re on, your pacing should be different. While everyone’s pacing is different, one must consider that the times allotted for each testing section are different also.

For example, the ACT English section permits 45 minutes for 75 questions while the ACT math section allocates 60 minutes for 60 questions.

Depending on your strengths, you may need to pace differently but keep in mind that the timing is also structured accordingly.

Note that the SAT’s timing is structured differently than the ACT so, if taking both exams, you will need to practice pacing twice as hard.



Do you have any test-taking tips?


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