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Why Test-Taking Is An Important Skill

If you are a student, it is obvious why you would want to learn a few tricks to help you do better on tests. Some parents and teachers, however, may not be sure this is such a good idea.

One problem with teaching test-taking skills is that students may become more focused on how to "beat the test" than on learning. Of course, the best way to do well on an examination is to be thoroughly familiar with the course content. Learning a few tricks is no substitute for learning the course!

Nevertheless, it is important for parents and teachers to make sure their students know these basic skills. Here are three good reasons:

  1. If some students know these tricks, while others do not, test results will be invalid.
  • Such results are unfair. Good students may lose out in competitive situations to weaker students who know less, but who nevertheless achieve higher scores because they are test-wise.
  • Such results are also misleading, providing teachers with wrong diagnostic information. Test-wise students who need help may not get it if their scores are artificially high.

By teaching all students the same strategies, we achieve a level playing field.

  1. Test-wise students may have less test anxiety.
  • Students may be less intimidated by tests if they have some strategies for dealing with them.
  1. Test-wise students demand better tests.
    • Since some of the "trickier" strategies for taking multiple-choice tests only work on poorly written test questions, test-wise students force teachers to construct better tests.