by Audrey W. Prince, M.Ed.
Students with disabilities frequently have difficulty displaying their knowledge or skills on tests. Specifically addressing and teaching test-taking techniques may improve a student's grade. You can provide students with the opportunity to learn and practice strategies for test-taking in a structured setting. The following are general techniques students should follow when taking all tests.
- Review the entire test.
- Know the time allotted for taking the test.
- Know the point-value of each question.
- Follow the directions carefully.
- Notice key words in instructions and questions.
- Reread directions and questions for clarity.
- Go through the test and answer questions you are sure of first.
- Place a mark beside questions you need to return to later.
- Return to all marked questions and answer them.
- Review the questions and your answers before turning in a test.
Use the SCORER system (Carman & Adams, 1972) strategies to help students with learning disabilities take tests.
S – Schedule your time. The student reviews the entire test and plans time to be spent on each item.
C – Look for Clue words. For example, on true-false items, words such as always and never usually indicate the statement is false. Words such as usually or sometimes frequently indicate the statement is true.
O – Omit difficult questions.The student should move through the test the first time answering the questions that he/she immediately knows. If he/she finds a question that is not easy to answer, he/she should skip that question and mark it (circle the number or check it, etc.) as a reminder to come back to that question. Students can even jot brief notes in the margin to use later for answering the question.
R – Read carefully. A careful reading of test directions and each item often improves test performance by reducing careless errors.
E – Estimate your answers. The student goes back to the question he/she did not answer the first time through the test. The student estimates or makes a best guess. At this point, the student should cross-out choices that he/she knows are incorrect and estimate the answer using the choices that are left.
R – Review your work. The student should use every minute available to check his/her work for completion and accuracy. All items should have an answer. The student should not change an answer unless he/she has a good reason. Also, the student should make sure that his/her name is on the test as well as any other information that the teacher requests.
Carman, R.A., & Adams, W.R. (1972) Study Skills: A Student's Guide for Survival. New York: Wiley.