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Test-Taking Process, Part II: Taking the Test

Imagine yourself on the morning of the test. You are rested, have made it to the testing center with no problem, have found a good parking space, and have a few minutes to spare to relax. And, because you’ve read this book, you already have experience with the types of questions you are going to see.

You are, in a nutshell, very well prepared.

So how do you make sure all this preparation doesn’t go out the window when the actual test begins? Again, every test-taker is going to react differently, based on previous experiences with tests of this nature, as well as general personality. Still, there are—just as with the night before the exam—some good "taking the test" tips you can follow. The following sections provide those very tips.

Taking the Test: Listening and Reading Carefully

After working through this book, you will be very familiar with the types of questions asked of you on the exam. That being the case, you still need to take time to carefully read the instructions for each section. Although you might be tempted to skip over the instructions out of familiarity, don’t! Take your time for this all-important component of the exam.

Taking the Test: Marking Your Answers Correctly

Knowing the right answer is one thing; making sure you mark it correctly on your answer sheet is another. This is one of those little tips that can save you a lot of time, frustration, and potential panic: Be sure you are marking the answer sheet for the question you are being asked (that is, don’t mark the answer for question #4 in the answer spot for question #5). Also, be sure you fill in your answer completely to avoid any confusion or scoring errors.

Taking the Test: Don’t Cheat

An obvious tip, right? You certainly are not going to cheat outright on your exam, but don’t put yourself in the position where it appears you are cheating when in reality you are not. Put simply, don’t let your eyes wander or do anything that would make it appear in any way that you are trying to look at another test taker’s answer sheet. You don’t want to be placed in a situation where you have to defend yourself against a charge of cheating. Best case, this takes away previous test-taking time. Worst case, your score is cancelled and your career options seriously jeopardized.

Taking the Test: Pay Attention

Just as you need to be sure you read instructions carefully, avoid letting your mind wander to anything other than the task at hand, which is taking the test and scoring as high as possible. Although some general "outside thoughts" are normal (thinking about how great it will be when the test is complete), don’t dwell on these things because you easily can become distracted.

Taking the Test: Focus on One Question at a Time

You may be tempted to read ahead and try to answer more than question at a time. Or you may fall victim to becoming overwhelmed by the number of questions and start to read ahead (and thus start to panic) as you think to yourself, "There is no way I can answer all these questions." Again, take a few deep breaths and keep your mind focused on the question at hand. The test is designed so that you have time to answer all the questions, so don’t feel you have to read ahead to finish on time.

Taking the Test: Work As Quickly and Accurately As You Can

Although you shouldn’t rush your answers, you shouldn’t—on the other hand—take an inordinate amount of time on each question. You do need to work quickly, but there is a difference between this approach and rushing. If you follow the tips in this section, including carefully following directions, you should be able to work quickly but at the same time feel confident you are giving each question a thorough read.

Taking the Test: Check Your Answers

This final tip is one that should be used with extreme caution. It is good (indeed, great!) to finish each section of the test with time to spare, but don’t put yourself in the position where you begin to second-guess yourself and, as a result, start changing all your answers. If you relax, read carefully, and work quickly (but accurately), there is no need to go back. Again, it’s a great idea to do some "spot checking" of your answers, but don’t go overboard with this, and don’t feel overly concerned if you have time to check only a few of your answers.

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