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Test-Taking Strategies

General Strategies to help you on SOL tests


1. Read the entire question.

It is very important that you take the time to read the entire question. If you don’t, you may miss important information and misunderstand the question.


2. Read all of the answer choices.

Just as it is important to read the entire test question, it is also important to read and carefully consider all of the answer choices. Remember that for each question, you are looking for the BEST answer. If you do not read all of the answers, you may pick a possible answer, but not the BEST answer.


3. Try every answer.

Try out every answer. By considering each answer, you can be more certain that you choose the BEST answer. The first answer may sound good, but another choice may be a better answer.


4. Process of Elimination.

If you don’t know the answer to a question, eliminate any answers that you know are incorrect. Doing this will help you narrow down your choices. The fewer choices left mean a better chance of answering the question correctly. Answering even two or three more questions correctly could mean the difference passing or not passing the test.


5. Guessing.

Guessing should not be the first strategy you try. You should only guess after you have tried other strategies. By reading the question carefully, you may be able to eliminate one or two of the choices. Make your best guess by choosing the answer that makes the most sense to you.


6. Check your work.

Make sure you have answered every question. Never leave an answer bubble blank. Make sure you have chosen only one answer for each question. Also, erase any stray marks on the page.


7. Use your tools.

If your teacher has had you practice using a highlighter on regular tests, you may use one on the SOL tests. Some students also use an index card to mark their place while reading or keep their place on the answer document. Use whatever tools are available to you during the test.


Want to know more? Visit the Virginia Department of Education’s website There are questions (and answers) from previous tests on the site.


Don’t forget about SOLPASS! http://solpass.org




Read all problems carefully.

Look for key words, numbers, figures or graphs. Look carefully at all answers!


Pay special attention to the operational signs!

(Highlight them if you need.)

            +    -  x   ÷


Make sure that you do what the sign says. Do not work problems in your head. Use your test booklet or scratch paper to do problems. If it is a word problem, draw a picture. This can help you avoid a careless mathematical error.


Also, don’t forget to look for key words to tell you what kind of computation or process is needed.

·        Less than

·        Least

·        Greatest

·        Greater than

·        Nearest

·        All together

·        Left over...are some examples



One key to doing well on the SOL tests is to get enough sleep the night before. Your mind and body need rest after a busy day. Most people need about 8 hours of sleep. You may need a little more or a little less. If you are well rested, you will be better able to concentrate and remember information. Being well rested can also help with anxiety.


Getting Dressed

Remember to wear comfortable clothing and dress for the temperature of your classroom. You may want to dress in layers. This way you will be ready if it is warm or cool in the room on the day of the test.



If you are supposed to wear glasses, wear them!!!



Now that you are well rested and are wearing comfortable clothes, let’s talk about food...


The importance of good meals:

Food is what fuels your body and mind. That is why eating a well-balanced breakfast is one way to prepare for the SOL tests. Think healthy choices like our PE survey done in lunch.


Controlling Worry and Anxiety:


You can control some of your worry and anxiety by being prepared for the test. Getting a good night’s sleep, eating a healthy breakfast, and wearing comfortable clothes are a good start.


Being prepared for the test also means that you have the supplies you need. Be sure to bring your #2 pencils and a good eraser.


A strategy to use for test anxiety or worry in general is called BATS.  BATS  is an acronym for:

B:  Breathe (Breathe in and out slowly 5 times in a row)

A:  Ask yourself to count to ten (not out loud)

T:  Think of your favorite place (picture a scene or think of a memory that makes you happy)

S:  Say, “I’m okay.  I can handle it!” (Think positively)


This is a test. Only a test!


Listen carefully to all directions. Ask questions if necessary. Be alert, but calm. Panicking will not help. Remember to breathe!


Take your time! Rushing may cause you to make a silly mistake.


Have all necessary materials such as pencils and erasers. If the test allows you to use a calculator (Grade 5 ONLY) or a ruler, your teacher will provide this for you.


Pay very close attention to the sample questions. This is the time to ask if you do not understand something.


Taking the Test:


Read the entire direction line twice.

•It is important to read the entire direction line carefully so you know exactly what to do.

•Some questions will tell you to look for the answer choice that is correct.

•Some questions will tell you to look for the answer

choice that has a mistake.


Look for Key Words

A Key Word is a word in the test question that tells you what to look for in the answer.


Sometimes key words are written in all CAPITAL LETTERS. They may be printed in bold, italics, or underlined.


Another Helpful Strategy:

If the questions have a passage, a paragraph, table or graph, read the questions that go with it first. Underline or highlight the important words or phrases. This will give you an idea of what to look for while reading the passages.

More about Worry and Anxiety:

Some people get anxious at the thought of taking a big test. Ask yourself the following questions:

·        Do you get nervous before a test?

·        Do you think you will not finish in time?

·        Do you forget things when you take a test?

·        Do you ever get so nervous that you have trouble breathing?

·        Do you panic when you don’t  know the answer to a question?

·        Do you sit down at a test thinking you will not do well?


If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may have test anxiety. Here are some ways you can control your anxiety now and during the SOL Tests:


o          Try to be in school every day. Your teachers are reviewing subjects that will be on the test. Being in class gives you a better chance to do your best and to ask questions about material.


o          The SOL Tests are not timed. You have the entire school day to complete each test. Relax and take your time.


Answer the questions you know first. This will build your confidence. Skip the questions that are giving you trouble and go back to them later. You may write in the test book so make a mark next to any question you skip.


Take a break for a few seconds. Take a deep breath (don’t forget to let it out!) Change your position. Stretch your arms, hands and neck. Make sure that you do this quietly Then go back to taking the test.


Don’t pay attention to anyone else. Everyone works at his or her own pace.

Remember that there is no prize for finishing first.


Be considerate of other test takers. Be careful not to make any disturbing noises or motions.


-A positive attitude helps you perform your best in any activity.

-Tell yourself you will do well on the test. (Positive self talk)

-Imagine yourself going through the test easily and answering the questions correctly.