Tricky Test-Taking Traps to Avoid this School Year

Performing well on a test isn't all about knowing the material. There are many different factors that can affect your test grade.

From the pressure of a particularly important exam to the confusing wording of a question, you may find yourself drawing a blank even when the answer is right in front of you.

As if studying for hours isn't enough, we also have to learn how to be good test takers. Get some tips on identifying test-taking traps before you fall right into them!

The Trail of B's

Picture this: You're working your way through your test and you answer No. 11 with a confident B. Oh, that's interesting, the answer to No. 12 is also B. Oh. No. You've got to be kidding me. There's no way No. 13 can be B, too. You think this must be a mistake. Somewhere you've gone wrong. You check the previous answers and now you're feeling a little less confident about No. 11.

Scantron test with pencil on top

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Don't panic. Teachers sometimes craft their tests this way, either on purpose or by total accident, but a trail of B's does not necessarily mean you've answered any of the above questions incorrectly. If you're feeling nervous, check each of the answers. One of two things is likely to happen: 1) You realize you misread a question and that the answer was D all along, or 2) You've answered each correctly and you can move on to the next question. Bubbling B for three or four answers in a row may seem alarming, but that doesn't mean you've made a mistake.

Playing Averages

It used to be rumored that C was the most frequently used answer. We took tests with the mantra, "When in doubt, bubble C."

This is a trap! If you aren't sure of an answer make an educated guess. Process of elimination may seem like an elementary school rule but it's super helpful on those tricky questions. It's likely that you can eliminate at least two answers. From there, your guessing chances skyrocket! Always try to figure out an answer rather than relying on a life hack.

Playing Favorites

Sometimes when we get to a particularly tough problem we begin to feel it challenge us. Even though we know we're feeling clueless, we dedicate precious passing minutes to cracking the question. Avoid this trap like it's a black hole…because it basically is. This one tough question will suck up all of your test taking time. Instead of finishing the test and getting most answers correct, you ran out of time and didn't even get to the questions you could answer easily.

Make a little mark next to a tough question and come back to it after you've finished the test. This way, once you're done you can dedicate the remaining time to defeating the difficult problem.

Alarm clock sitting on a stack of books on a school desk

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Leaving an Answer Blank

Never ever in any circumstance leave an answer blank. This is much easier said than done when you're working with a fill-in-the-blank test, but trust me. There is no risk in answering a question incorrectly when you were just going to leave it blank anyway. You may just get lucky and guess the correct answer. Even if you get it wrong, at least you tried!

Crash Studying

Crash studying's partner-in-crime is procrastination. Avoid these traps before stepping into the classroom by dedicating a little time to studying every day. Crash studying the night before will only hurt your performance by creating a stressful atmosphere. Plus, it's scientifically proven that our brains don't retain much of the information we try and cram into it during the wee hours of the morning. A good night's rest and a big healthy breakfast are the best ways to ensure a tranquil testing environment.

Girl surrounded by books in the library studying.

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Now that you have all the tools you need for avoiding test-taking traps, read up on THIS regrettable time I cheated on a test.