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Is this you on the day of your standardized test? Have no fear! Be it SAT, ACT, NMSQ (or whatever other acronym you can add to the list!), we all need a little help navigating these standardized testing mazes. Luckily, I’m here to help with some quick tips to prepare you for the big day of the test.


  1.  Know the test that you are taking: Do as much research as you can about the specific standardized test that you or your student will have to pass. Each test is going to have a specific structure. Most standardized tests have their own websites that you can explore to gather information (links to common standardized testing websites will be included below). These websites will also have practice exams that you or your student can take to familiarize themselves with the material. This leads me to number 2…
  2. Practice makes perfect…or at least it comes close!You know this somewhat obnoxious phrase that your teacher is always telling you? Well, it’s true! Each standardized test should have free practice exams online. This is an invaluable resource! Completing these practice tests gives you an exact idea of the type of questions each standardized test will be asking. This practice also allows you to see the language of the questions and how they are going to be worded.
  3. Identify and understand what each question is asking: You should be able to identify the function of each question on these standardized tests. Figure out if you are trying to analyze, persuade, compare/contrast, explain, interpret, or describe. has a great list of 10 function words that a student may see on a standardized test and what each word means. You can access this article here.
  4. Don’t be deceived by multiple choice: Students will often let their guard down when answering multiple choice questions because they seem easier than free answer questions. Encourage your student to, if possible, try and think of the answer WITHOUT looking at the multiple-choice options available. This ensures that the student is paying attention to the detail in the question and not just relying on the answer to be given to them. has a helpful list of tips about answering multiple-choice questions that you can find here.
  5.  Individualize your study: Not every student studies the same. In fact, most students study differently from each other. Everyone has different learning types and abilities. Make sure you familiarize yourself with what learning type you are and know the specific tools that help you learn. Make sure you incorporate these tools in your study. Penn State has a short learning style test that you can access here.
  6. Get someone to help: If you or your student needs extra help, do not hesitate to reach out to a tutor. And don’t wait until the week or month of the test; work with a tutor in the MONTHS leading up to the standardized test. Tutors cannot ensure the success of a student struggling to cram understanding into their brain with their test just days away. This will not be a success story for tutor or studentI hope that these tips can help better prepare you for you, or your child’s, upcoming standardized test. Further information about standardized testing will appear in “Next Steps: Tips for Success on the Day of your Standardized Test.”

    Helpful Resources












    An organized handout from a school in Ohio about Standardized Testing tips and secrets-