Are you taking an AP Exam at home? Or maybe the ACT, GRE, or any other test from a computerized system? If so, we’re going to give you tips to totally crush your standardized tests when they’re on a computer.
1. Familiarize Yourself with the Testing Format
Whatever standardized test you’re taking, log in to the test practice/online module, and play around with the software. It’s never a good time to encounter new software while you’re taking a test. You’ll want to play around to see what features are enabled.
For example, it would be useful to check if you can highlight. Does the highlighting disappear if you leave the current question? Can you eliminate answer choices? Can you move forwards and backwards? These quirks might change often, so be sure to do this before your test to have a current picture of what the software will do.
With written questions, it’s important to know if you can cut and paste, and whether it’s possible to write out of order. If the essay can be written out of order, following tips like writing essays from the inside out can be helpful.
Looking for built-in tools such as spell-checking, dictionaries, or calculators will be helpful if they exist.
2. Take a Practice Test Using the Online Module
If they don’t offer a complete practice test, take the partial test or whatever you can get your hands on. You want to practice with the system that you’re going to be testing on. For practice tests, check out our resource page.
Practicing as much from a screen a screen is also going to be important. Reading from a screen is a very different experience than reading from paper. It’s probably not what you’re used to, and practicing as much as possible will help you.
3. Have Something Handy to Write With
One of the biggest mistakes when working off a computer is to stop showing work or taking notes. On a computerized math exam, for example, students tend to do more mental math instead of writing things down. Inevitably, the more mental math you do, the more open you are to careless mistakes that you probably wouldn’t have overlooked if you had written things down.
4. Know the Pitfalls of Online Tests
Studies that have compared student performances between computerized and physical exams have shown that students perform worse on computers. Sometimes, the effect was negligible, but the differences sometimes ranged between 10 and 20 percent. One theory is that students overestimated their understanding when reading information shown on a comuputer. Other studies have found that people who are on computers aren’t focused as much.
Be especially careful about not being overconfident and not being distracted when you’re on a computer. Set specific goals, and check in with yourself to make sure that you understand what you’re reading. If you feel like you’re not 100% sure, then you probably aren’t.
5. Choose the Best Tools and Environment
If you can choose which device or what environment you’re taking the on, we encourage you to plan it out in advance and get the most stable device you can. Get a comfortable chair and desk, and make sure that your computer or network won’t crash in the middle of the test. Find a quiet environment.
Have any other tips? Feel free to drop it by on the comments section of our YouTube video!