Visualize Success: Test Taking 101

Enrichment Therapies

January 14, 2019

By: Sarah Sitzmann, M.A., CCC-SLP

Does your high school student struggle with test-taking? How many times have you heard, “I’m just not good at taking tests”?

35% of students have test anxiety. This is often because they aren’t very experienced with the exam formats. With Iowa Assessments, ACTs, and SATs fast approaching, our test preparation techniques and tutoring options are great for getting your student ready to master standardized testing.

Here are some tips for keeping stress levels down and test scores high!

Visualize – Draw a picture in your head about what the question is asking. If you’re working on a reading section, make a movie in your head about what is happening in the story.
Visualizing is the MOST important strategy when it comes to test-taking. Your student should naturally be creating a picture in their head about what they are reading. For instance, if I gave you step-by-step directions on how to do something, you may remember the steps by visualizing. In your head, you see yourself doing the steps. Often times adolescents do not automatically know how to visualize, so they need to be taught. Improving a student’s imagery skills increases their ability to retain details and main ideas, which ultimately helps them to answer higher-order-thinking or complex questions on tests with greater accuracy.

Check out all the ways visualizing is used at ETLC, not only to increase the ability to answer these complex test questions but for so much more!

If you are concerned that your student might be struggling, it may be time for a free screening. We offer FREE screenings for all of our services: speech, language, writing, math, and dyslexia. We have offices in North Liberty and the Des Moines metro.

Here are some additional tips and tricks to improve test-taking confidence!

  • Relax – Take some deep breaths before you begin, and be confident! Remind yourself that you are going to do your best. Have some small sips of water before you start.
  • Practice – Taking practice tests will help you become familiar with the testing format: fill in answer bubbles, transfer answers to testing booklets, and follow the testing symbols.
  • Read the directions carefully – Simple mistakes can be made if you don’t read the directions carefully. Take some time to read them, and if you don’t understand something, ask the teacher to clarify it. If you can’t ask a teacher for help, move on to the next question and come back later with a fresh perspective.
  • Answer the easy questions first – To help build your confidence, answer the questions that you know first. Skip the more difficult ones so that you can come back and spend more time on them later.
  • Cross out incorrect answers – On multiple choice exams, read all of the options and eliminate answers you know are wrong as you go. This will narrow down your options and make finding the correct answer easier.
  • Look it over – When you are finished, look over the test to make sure you didn’t skip any questions and that your answers are filled in correctly.

At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center we have individualized programming to help students achieve their highest potential.  Our goal is to help each student gain skills so that they find confidence and success in the classroom.  We provide academic and speech-language services for students 2 years old to college age.  We have individual speech-language therapy and individual math/reading tutoring.  We also have a unique program called LEAP (Language Enrichment Academic Program).  LEAP is a small-group academic program for students who struggle in school.   

Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech-language therapy and tutoring as well as offering small group academic programs.  At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success.  Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.

740 Community Drive, Unit A

North Liberty, IA 52317


5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300

Johnston, IA 50131


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