Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Most Productive 3 Seconds

Here's a good test-taking tip that you can use on just about any timed test: when you are reading the question, take an extra three seconds to really understand what is being asked.

I frequently see students rush right into an answer without fully understanding the question. Not knowing what is being asked can have devastating consequences.

For multiple choice questions, if you don't spend a little extra time to confirm the question, you can easily fall into a trap.

On essays, if don't make sure you know the prompt, you might write off topic and receive a zero. Ouch!

So take just three seconds each time you have a question. Restate the question in your own words and make sure you understand what is being asked.

This strategy alone will keep you on task and you will avoid the common traps and pitfalls on both standardized and teacher-created tests. Three seconds is not much but it may be the most productive three seconds you spend on a test.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Why "C" is a Great Essay

Which of the following arguments is most convincing?

A: Deception is bad.
B: Deception is bad because it is dishonest.
C: Deception is bad because when the dishonesty is revealed, real people are deeply impacted like those that lost their life savings when Bernard Madoff’s ponzi scheme collapsed.

Of course “C” is clearly more convincing. Why? Because “C” uses a very concrete example. “A” is too vague. “B” is better but it is still a bit abstract.

If you want to make your essays more convincing, shoot for “C” as in concrete. The number one way to make your essays more convincing is to use concrete examples. This is true on standardized test essays like the S.A.T. as well as essays for school assignments.

So for your next essay, lose the abstract and get concrete!