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You don’t want to spend time and energy prepping for Test Day and get tripped up on common mistakes.  So, here is a list of the most easily-preventable errors students make on Test Day—avoid them!

Mistake 1:  Forgetting the Test Ticket

We’ve already talked about how important it is to make sure your Test Ticket is correct, filled out, and has the appropriate accommodations listed (if any).  So, you might be surprised to find out that many students actually forget their Test Ticket on Test Day!  Don’t let this be you!  Forgetting your Ticket—or forgetting to have your parent or guardian sign it—can lead to a lot of inconvenience. You might either have to reschedule the test or miss it altogether.

Mistake 2:  Not Having What You Need to Take the Test

You have the Test Ticket in your pocket, you slept well, you ate breakfast, you’re wearing your favorite comfortable clothes, and you showed up to the Test Site early (ready to battle the lines that will include hundreds of students who are also taking the exam).  You even remembered to leave your iPod at home!  But, did you remember to bring pencils with you?  (Are they #2 pencils?)  Do your pencils have erasers on them?  Did you bring a watch that does not have a calculator function?  If you require assistive technologies or tools, do you have them too?

Mistake 3:  Poor Time Management

You will have 180 minutes to complete the exam, and you can use that time however you need.  During the exam, you’ll have a proctor that will remind you of how much time is left.  (And, your ArgoPrep will help you make good use of your time as you prepare.)  But, remember that whatever notes you make on the test booklet aren’t official answers, and you won’t be given any extra time to transfer answers over to the test sheet.  So, always be aware of how much time has passed compared to the questions you have left to answer.

Mistake 4:  Misreading

It sounds simple:  follow the directions, right?  But, many students either forget to read the directions altogether, or don’t read the questions carefully.  Be intentional about reading these questions (and their directions) carefully.  There might be more than one answer that seems correct (does the question ask you to find the best answer?).  Does the question ask you to identify an incorrect response out of choices that are correct?

Mistake 5:  Bubble Errors

Do you already have the habit of writing as quickly (and maybe, as illegibly) as possible?  If so, you’ll have to be extra careful.  Who is grading your test?  Guess what—it’s not a person!  A machine is going to be grading the exam, so make sure that you are filling in your bubbles carefully.  If you fill in a bubble, and change your mind, make sure you’ve erased the bubble completely so that you don’t confuse the machine into thinking that you’ve given two answers (which will always be wrong).  Also make sure that you bubble in the answer that matches the question.  (It’s surprisingly easy to get off-track on your questions.  One way to avoid this is to make sure you use a piece of scrap paper to block the lines that you aren’t using yet.)  Finally, make sure that you don’t have any accidental marks on your answer sheet that can confuse the machine.  Be smarter than the machine!

Mistake 6:  Skipping Questions

You might be used to skipping questions that you feel you don’t know the answer to, but for the SHSAT, it makes *no* sense to skip questions.  (You only get points for the questions you answer correctly, so skipping a question you’re not sure about doesn’t give you an advantage.  You get ZERO points for skipped questions, so make sure to have an answer for every single question.)  We’ll go over strategies for answering questions you don’t know later, but for now, don’t make the mistake of skipping any questions.

Mistake 7:  Distracting Others

We’ve all been taking a test and have been distracted by students snapping bracelets, kicking the seats of the student in front of them, tapping pencils, chewing gum, or maybe even sneaking peeks at videos on their phones.  Don’t be that student at the SHSAT!  For this exam, not only will everyone be harmed if you are distraction (even if you don’t mean to be!), you can actually be removed from the test if you are too much of a nuisance—and, of course, if you turn on or use your phone before you have left the test site.  You won’t be able to leave the test before the exam is over, so do what you can to not distract anyone else.  If you finish before everyone else, go back over your answers, make sure you filled them in carefully and in order, you don’t have non-bubble marks on your sheet, and that you’re submitting a neat and orderly exam.  If you still have time left, use it to think about how awesome the next four years of your life will be

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