Ask Paige: Standardized Tests and How to Ace Them


Photo courtesy of Paige Kuhn

Here at Kettle Moraine School for Arts and Performance (KM Perform), we usually don’t take tests. However, many colleges require certain standardized tests, such as the ACT and SAT, and students taking a KMHS Legacy course will need to prepare for finals, AP tests, and/or midterm exams. Prepping for large exams is critical, and could impact the likelihood of getting into college. Of course, this process doesn’t have to be as stressful as it seems; it’s actually quite simple. Here are some tips to help ace exams!

Before taking the ACT, take an ACT prep course. This online class offers a personalized set of curriculum based on student needs, and includes games/flashcards to help with memorization as well as a realistic ACT practice test. For students taking the SAT, Khan Academy offers a free online prep course that includes a full-length mock SAT in addition to math, reading, and writing practice. For AP exams, The College Board offers tips for every individual test. These tips will familiarize students with the rules of AP testing for their specific course(s). Students should be sure to take a look at all of these resources in regard to applicability; knowing more about their exam(s) can help ease test anxiety.

Before showing up to take your test, be sure to eat a good breakfast and get a good night’s sleep; this will help jumpstart the day. Also, get to the exam early, if possible. Waiting for the test to be administered is better than being late and missing it entirely (late arrivals can’t take the test). Oftentimes, pencils will dull as the test goes on, so it’s important to bring more than one pencil (with good erasers). Lastly, wear comfortable clothes. Sitting in a chair for hours on end, without many breaks can be very uncomfortable, so dress appropriately.

During the test, keep track of time. Calculate approximately how much time should be spent on each question based on the amount of time given. If you don’t understand a question, or can’t get the answer, put a star next to it and save it for later. At the end of each section (or the end of the test), if you still have multiple questions to answer and are running out of time, just fill in random answer bubbles. It sounds crazy, but random answers are better than no answers; you’re bound to get at least one correct.

Tests can be stressful, but they don’t always have to be; being prepared makes all the difference. Just remember to stay positive, regardless of what scores you get. Plus, when it comes to the ACT and SAT, you can always retake your test. Good luck!