What are great ways to manage time effectively while taking standardized tests?

ACT/SAT Prep

Our counselors answered:

What are great ways to manage time effectively while taking standardized tests?

Pamela Hampton-Garland
Owner Scholar Bound

Managing time with Standardized Tests

One way to manage time is to know your strengths, meaning if you are more proficient in reading and can read quickly and comprehend the material, do not waste time pondering that section because you are nervous. Anxiety will cause you to forget what you are certain of, so go at it with confidence. Another method is to read through and answer the questions you are sure of first and if it takes you longer than a minute to complete and you are somewhat unsure come back to it (mark it so that you do not have to search for it but go on to what you know) In the critical reading section I always suggests that students read through the questions first and then the passage because your subconcious will bring to mind the location of the information that you know is in a question so just mark that area and when you get to that question you will know where to look for the answer. Additionally, don't doodle, keep it moving when you are "stuck" skip and go on... In the writing section do not waste time outlining do a quick mindmap and to organize your ideas and begin writing.

Geoff Broome
Assistant Director of Admissions Widener University

What are great ways to manage time effectively while taking standardized tests?

Go through and answer the questions that you know first. Then go back and spend a little more time on the questions that you don't know. On the SAT, if you can eliminate 2 answer choices but don't know the answer, Guess. Otherwise, omit. On the ACT, if you don't know the answer or can't come up with the answer, Guess.

Trevor Creeden
Director of College and Career Counseling Delaware County Christian School

What are great ways to manage time effectively while taking standardized tests?

First rule of thumb is that you should spend about a minute on each question. If you go over a minute you are taking time away from future questions you need to answer. You should also not be skipping questions in the beginning of each section. The questions are in order from "easy" to "medium" to "hard" difficulty in each section (except the reading passages in the critical reading section...these questions are in order from easy to hard based on each passage) so if you are skipping the easy questions, you are going to have a really difficult time with the hard questions at the end of the section.

Tam Warner Minton
Consultant College Adventures

What are great ways to manage time effectively while taking standardized tests?

The best way is to PRACTICE. Practice at home with timed practice tests, and try a couple of different ways to keep track of your time. You'll find what works best for you.

Carita Del Valle
Founder Academic Decisions

What are great ways to manage time effectively while taking standardized tests?

There are several! First have a watch with a seconds hand sitting on your desk in front of you and reset the watch to 12:00 each time a new section is started. Next skip questions that you immediately know you will struggle with (usually based on past experience) and then of course there is skipping around in general to maximize time with questions that are quick answers for you and do not fixate on one particular question at a time.

Karen Ekman-Baur
Director of College Counseling Leysin American School

What are great ways to manage time effectively while taking standardized tests?

In developing a test-taking strategy, It helps to have taken at least a few complete practice tests for several reasons. One, it lets you see where your areas of strength and weakness are, so that further preparation can be somewhat more focused on the weaker areas. Secondly, you will be able to see how long it takes to effectively get through each section. Thirdly, as you go through the practice tests, you will become familiar with the directions for the various sections of the test so that you can read through them more quickly when taking the REAL test and not have to waste time figuring out what to do. Finally, familiarity with the structure of the test should permit you to go into the actual testing situation in a more relaxed state of mind. It is not essential to take a standardized test prep class, although in many cases, it would surely be helpful. If this is not feasible for you, you can buy SAT and ACT test preparation books and organize a self-study with those materials. Most of the prep books will include a number of practice tests based on actual past tests. When you take those practice tests, arrange to have someone time you. Times will be indicated for each section, and those times should be carefully observed. You will be able to determine which test sections you are able to get through in the allotted time and which ones slow you down. The test prep books also include tips for effective test-taking strategies which will surely be of use to you. When taking the tests (both practice and actual), attempt to go through the questions at a consistent rate. Don't let yourself get bogged down and spend too much time on any one question. Just skip any questions that slow you down noticeably and continue on. If you do skip a question, however, be sure to skip the space on the answer sheet, as well, and mark the question to indicate that you want to go back to it if there is time remaining when you get to the end of the section. If you skip a question and forget to skip the corresponding place on the answer sheet, you will potentially get every question after that wrong because the answers will be in the wrong place. You definitely don't want that to happen! For each question on the multiple choice sections there will be a short list of possible answers. On the SAT, one point is awarded for each correct answer and no points are given for a question that is not answered at all. Fractions of points will be taken off, however, for wrong answers in certain sections of the test. That means that you would be better off not answering a question than giving a wrong answer. It is not wise to guess completely - eeny, meeny, miney, mo - if you cannot eliminate any of the answers as being incorrect. If you CAN eliminate any of the suggested answers as incorrect, though, you will have an improved chance of making an accurate "educated guess". Obviously, the more incorrect responses you can eliminate, the better your chances will be of choosing the correct answer from the remaining possibilities.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

What are great ways to manage time effectively while taking standardized tests?

The most important thing to remember about effective time management on standardized tests is to be sure that you go through the whole section, doing right away the things you know how to do, answering quickly the questions you can. You do not want to get bogged down on something only to have it eat up time that could have been used on other questions. Once you have gone over the whole section you can use the remaining time to do the things you could not answer on the initial run through. Don’t fine tune or agonize in the early going. Get done what you can and what you know. You can make changes or revise the essay later in the process, but the last thing you want is to leave untouched something for which you might have gotten credit.

Zahir Robb
College Counselor The Right Fit College

What are great ways to manage time effectively while taking standardized tests?

Wear a watch and practice. By taking timed tests in preparation for the final exam, you can get an idea as to the "flow" of the test. Don't try it cold. There are enough sample tests out there, so sit down, get out the kitchen timer and begin.

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

What are great ways to manage time effectively while taking standardized tests?

You can surely find those answers on the Internet and in many books on the subject. Talking to an expert will help too!

Sarah Contomichalos
Manager Educational Advisory Services, LLC

What are great ways to manage time effectively while taking standardized tests?

Memorize the directions before taking the test. Answer the easy questions first and mark any questions you skip so you can go back to them quickly.