Helpful Testing Strategies

College entrance exams have long been feared by high school students. And for good reason. Standardized tests are important in creating trends amongst American students. But there is a general consensus that these exams are actually quite difficult for the average kid. Why you might ask? Because tests like the SAT ask high school students to answer college-level questions. This makes the questions much harder for students who have not prepared properly. If you are a high school student and you don’t feel prepared for your upcoming SAT or ACT, there are some helpful testing strategies you can employ during the exam to increase your chances of choosing correct responses.


No, I don’t mean dash out of the testing room and never look back. DASH is an acronym that stands for Determine Always, Sometimes, Hardly Ever. This testing strategy can be used to separate questions into ones you can always answer accurately, can sometimes answer accurately, and can hardly ever answer accurately.

Before you start a section, mark your questions with A, S or H. Then do all of your A questions first, your S questions next and your H questions last. That way you are spending more time on questions you can answer correctly. After all, these tests only grade you on correct responses, not incorrect ones.


HAT stands for the Huntington Alternative Technique which can be utilized during verbal sections of your tests. Verbal sections include reading and writing questions. Step one is read. Read the passage, the paragraph or the sentence first. Step two is proof/predict. After reading the sentence, paragraph or passage, look for errors that stand out to you. Proofread as you go. Then you can predict what the correct answer might be.

Step three is apply. Once you have proofread and made your prediction, you can look over the answer choices. Apply your prediction to its closest available response. Your ears are used to picking up inaccuracies in language. Trust your instinct and your ear, but back up your instincts with grammatical facts to ensure you choose the correct answer.

Primary vs. Secondary Questions

This testing strategy can also be applied to reading passages. Passages will appear in almost all of the sections of your exams, so pay special attention to them. Primary questions can be answered using the text. These are fact-based questions. The answer will be written in whatever passage the question relates to.

Secondary questions are inference-based questions. Rather than the answer being included in the passage, you must guess, using reason, at what the answer might be. This is called an inference. You are making predictions about the text based on the information provided in the passage. Secondary questions are generally harder to answer.

The last testing strategy you should consider is preparation. Huntington Learning Center has long served the community with terrific exam prep programs. We have seen student scores increase tremendously after working with our tutors and we don’t expect this trend to change. If your child needs exam prep for their college entrance exams, don’t wait until it’s too late. Sign them up today for a free academic evaluation by calling 208-331-9020!

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