So, you’re preparing to take your high school equivalency test. Whether you’re taking the GED, the TASC, or the HiSET, there are some general test taking tips that will help you ace the test and earn that high school equivalency you’ve been dreaming about.
Study in Advance
In order to do well on any test, you’ll want to begin studying in advance, possibly weeks or even months in advance. You’ll remember more if you study over a longer period of time than if you cram all your studies into a few days before the test.
Learn about the test you are going to take. What are the subjects? Can I choose between computer- or paper-based tests? How long does it take and are there any breaks during the test? Are there any essay questions? What specific topics are emphasized? What accommodations are available? How is the test scored? Knowing the answers to these questions early on will make your study much more effective and help you arrange any accommodations you need in advance.
If you are taking a computer-based test, make sure to familiarize yourself with the format. Visit the test website and read (or watch tutorials) about how to use an on-screen calculator and formula sheet. It is strongly recommended that you take the official practice tests. All three test websites offer free practice tests or sample questions.
If your typing speed is below 40 words per minute, practice and improve your typing skills so that you can pass the essay portion. Get used to writing essays on screen even if you prefer writing on paper first. You can find some free typing tests here (http://www.gedboard.com/improve-typing-speed/)
The Day Before the Test
At this point, you either know it or you don’t. Studying a lot on the day before the test may actually be counterproductive, increasing your anxiety. You can look over the material briefly, but don’t get into a full blown study session.
What you can do is make sure you know how to get to the testing center. You may even want to make a dry run to the center in your car or by public transportation, however you plan to get there, scout out parking, etc. Doing this in advance will help reduce stress on the day of the test.
Find out what you need to bring to the test center (ID, appointment confirmation, payment, etc.) and prepare them.
The Day of the Test
- Eat a good breakfast with an emphasis on protein. Protein is “brain food” and will help power you through the test. Avoid sweets or simple carbohydrates as you may find yourself crashing as your blood sugar drops during the test.
- Get to the test center early so you can pick out your seat, get organized, and relax.
- Read instruction carefully. If you are taking a computer-based test, note how to use the calculator, formula sheet, and mark questions feature.
- Be sure to keep up with your time. If others are finishing before you, don’t let that bother you. That’s their test, not yours. There’s no bonus for finishing first.
- Before you even read the possible answers to a multiple choice question, see if you know the answer off the top of your head. If it isn’t there try to eliminate the ones that couldn’t possibly be right.
- Budget your time for the essay questions. Instead of rushing into writing, take some time to plan your essay. Doing this will help you manage your time better and reduce the chance of getting stuck in one place or rewriting the whole essay in the middle. Incomplete or very short essays receive low scores.
- Don’t get stuck on one question and waste your time. Just pick an answer, mark the question for review and move on.
- There is no penalty for a wrong answer. If you have time, make sure you answered everything and that you didn’t make any careless mistakes. If you still have time left on the clock, go back to marked questions for a second look.
Overcoming Test Taking Anxiety
Test Taking Anxiety is a learned behavior. No one is born with it. An association with success or achievement with self-worth can often be the underlying psychological reason for test anxiety.
In order to reduce test anxiety, remain positive. Instead of telling yourself things like, “I’m no good at this. Why should I even try?” replace those thoughts with something like, “I worked hard to prepare for this test and I’m going to pass it.”
Notice when you’re starting to get anxious during the test and take a minute to relax. The breath is a powerful anti-anxiety remedy.
Take a deep breath. Hold it. And, let it out fully. Do that four more times. See the difference?
You Can Do It
And, it may surprise you that you have less anxiety taking your high school equivalency test than you may have experienced taking tests in the past. After all, you’ve prepared for a long time. You know the material. You got a good night’s rest. You showed up early. And, you have good strategies for taking the test and staying calm.