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If you are a student, odds are you will have to take some sort of standardized test during your academic career. Whether it is to advance to the next level in your education or just so your school district can get money they will turn up. While standardized testing isn’t a clear indicator of your intelligence, many institutions seem to think so. By “succeeding” by some colleges/high school standards, it gives way to scholarship money, advanced classes, and hopefully keeping your schools art curriculum. It is not the end of the world if you don’t score a 100% on these exams, but here are some tips on what to study that can help you get closer.


Everybody gets rusty with their math skills after not using them for a while. When is the last time you remember sitting down and doing multiplication of large numbers and long division without a calculator? For some this may be yesterday but for many this could be elementary, middle or early high school. This means you need to brush up on at the least long division. Since a calculator is allowed on the test if you don’t need to worry about multiplication as much, but long division with variables can get tricky.

Similarly, something you may need to revisit is finding the angle of polygons. Another common type of problem is a problem that involves rates. For example on all of the standardized tests I’ve taken there have been questions involving one object going one way and the other another way. Often times these problems involve trains and cars so keeping an eye out can be helpful.

Critical Reading

When it comes down to it a large portion of the Critical Reading section is vocab. This means taking the time to analyze context clues and memorize vocab. Within vocab memorization it is also good to learn some of the prefixes and suffixes of Latin. Learning these will aid you with words you do not know because if you can at least recognize a part of the word you have a better chance of selecting the right answer. Also, by reading more stories and analyzing them when you get to the critical reading section and have to read about whatever they may say about cows or the neighbor who is obsessed with potatoes you’ll be ready.


According to ACT Student the break down for the tests are in three parts: Data Representation, Research Summaries, and Conflicting Viewpoints . For Data Representation, “This format presents graphic and tabular material similar to that found in science journals and texts. The questions associated with this format measure skills such as graph reading, interpretation of scatterplots, and interpretation of information presented in tables.”

For Research Summaries, “This format provides descriptions of one or more related experiments. The questions focus upon the design of experiments and the interpretation of experimental results.”

For Conflicting Viewpoints, “This format presents expressions of several hypotheses or views that, being based on differing premises or on incomplete data, are inconsistent with one another. The questions focus on the understanding, analysis, and comparison of alternative viewpoints or hypotheses.” Also, from my experience on standardized state testing some good things to know are the water cycle, bonding of elements, the levels of naming animals/plants, and how to use lab equipment.


When you are writing in a restricted time frame you’re going to need to have a fairly good idea of what you want to write about. To do this you should come up with a list of important figures, your role models, current events, a favorite book, and a historical event. For all of these things compile some fast facts and memorize them. This will give you a guaranteed repertoire of ideas for an essay.

Secondly you should devise a structure for your paper. An easy set up is a basic 5 paragraph essay including an intro paragraph, 3 body paragraphs and a conclusion. Within the introductory paragraph introduce your paper topic for those who may not know it and end it with a thesis. A 3-prong thesis includes the general idea for each body paragraph and addresses the prompt. For example if you are given the prompt “write on something you love.” Your 3-prong thesis could be something like “I love cats because they are furry, they purr, and they are cute.” You could then write a paragraph on their furr, how they purr, and their cuteness. In your conclusion you should summarize your paper and give an overarching theme/take-away.

All in all, if you take the time to take multiple practice exams you’ll begin to personally know what you are struggling with and be able to focus on learning how to avoid mistakes you make commonly.

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the author

Stephanie Jones is a student at Villanova University studying Computer Engineering. When she isn't reading or writing she enjoys watching tv shows on netflix, tumbling, and texting her friends. Memes are a sure fire way to make her laugh and she is always available for contact at

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