While the exam is fairly consistent across grade levels, it has marked differences from other high impact standardized exams, such as the ERB, ISEE, or SHSAT. The State Test is a critical component for high school admissions, used by all screened public schools. Use these 8 tips to help you get a 4!
1. Take Breaks
With unlimited time, you have more opportunities for breaks. Think of each reading or writing passage as one task that you need to get done and sustain maximum focus until that reading or writing section is done. Don’t feel like you can’t take a quick break or even a bathroom break between passages or after a particularly draining math question. What matters is that you are at 100% for every problem, not that you necessarily complete 100% of the exam all at once.
2. Follow the Formula
Make sure every short response has a topic sentence and two pieces of evidence, each with a corresponding sentence of analysis. A short response or essay does not need to be particularly insightful to get a maximum score, but it does have to have all of the requisite components. The graders for the exam is reading many passages in a short period of time; make it easy for them to give you a maximum score by clearly having all of the necessary components!
3. Find the Two Parts
There are two kinds of long response essay questions. The first are based off of one reading, while the the second form of the question will be based off of two different passages. When writing a long essay response for a single passage, look for a place where the passage changes topic or mood. Normally, if a question relates to the entirety of the passage, then the two body paragraphs should relate to the two different elements of the passage.
4. Don’t Forget to Edit
Your writing isn’t over until you’ve gone over the written paragraph or essay looking for edits. A written response does not need to be error free for maximum points, but enough grammar or spelling mistakes will cost you points. For most students, a quick reading of the response will let them catch some mistakes.
5. Keep a Simple Vocabulary
Students do not get points based on the strength of their vocabulary, but you can potentially lose points for misusing a word or misspelling a word. Rather than try out your new five-dollar words, opt for safe words that you know perfectly.
6. The Calculator is a Tool, Not a Crutch
It is easy to get carried away with the calculator. Despite being able to do computations on your calculator, it is best to still show your work and work out the problems. Often times, identifying the question can be more difficult than figuring out a correct answer. By working out the problem on the page you increase your chances of fixing a mistake. Don’t use the calculator until the problem is down to a mere computation.
7. Plug Your Answer Back into the Equation
On the SHSAT, students often do not have enough time to plug all algebra answers back into the equation. On the State Test though, you not only have unlimited time, but can also use the calculator to double check your work.
8. Let the Algebra Work for You
Many questions on the state test have variables, even if they are not an algebra problem at first glance. Setting up an algebraic equation for these problems can help ensure that you fully understand the mathematical underpinnings of the problem, and can help you solve the individual steps.