Test-Taking Strategies
Tackling the Whole Test
Before diving into our global test-taking strategies, let’s define some terms. We’ll use an example from the multiple-choice portion of the Writing section:
6. Eager to pass his final exams, studying was the student’s top priority.
(A) studying was the student’s top priority.
(B) the student made studying his top priority.
(C) the top priority of the student was studying.
(D) the student’s top priority was studying.
(E) studying was the top priority for the student.
The entire unit shown above is the item. The sentence containing the underlined portion is the stem. In a Math section item, the stem might be a word problem or a picture and question. The lettered options beneath the stem are the answer choices. Only one of the answer choices is correct. The other four answer choices are called distractors because that is exactly what they are designed to do—distract attention from the correct answer.
In Reading Passages and Paragraph Improvement, you’ll also have passages that provide information. In those item types, more than one item is tied to a passage. The passage plus items is called a set. A set can also be a group of items that aren’t tied to passages, such as a bunch of Sentence Completions in a Critical Reading section or algebra items in a Math section.
A section refers to a Critical Reading, Writing, or Math timed section that usually contains a mix of various item types.
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