Op/Ed 10/2/09

SAY YES TO TESTS

By Angelina Folchi

Features Reporter

  Even though the school year is just starting off, there are a few tests LHS students will be taking to demonstrate proficiency or prepare for college. The PSAT, ACT and SAT are important tests that college admission officers really depend on to help them decide if a student is upstanding enough to attend their college.

  The CAHSEE determines high school proficiency. The CAHSEE, which stands for California High School Exit Examination, is coming up fast on Tuesday and Wednesday. All sophomores are required to take it, as well as older students who haven’t passed yet. Without passing the test, students don’t receive their diplomas.

  The CAHSEE consists of two parts. In the mathematics section, students must demonstrate basic algebra, geometry, statistics and probability skills. The second half of the test, the English half, requires knowledge about reading, comprehension and grammar, and the students will have to write a basic five-paragraph essay.

  Another test coming soon is the PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test). Freshmen, sophomores and juniors are allowed to take it as a practice test for the SAT. The test costs $13 and signups are in room 100.

  Similar to the SAT, the PSAT has three sections: critical reading, mathematics and writing. This test is a great opportunity for lowerclassmen, because it prepares its takers for the SAT as a junior or senior.

  The ACT is much like the SAT, but it also has a science section. Certain colleges prefer the ACT or the SAT, so before students apply to a university, they should make sure they have taken the test the college wants to see. The ACT tests basic knowledge, whereas the SAT tests reasoning abilities.

  Another difference in the two tests is the way they are scored. On the ACT, points are given for correct answers, but none are taken off for incorrect guesses. One’s best bet on this test is to eliminate the wrong answers and make the best, educated guess out of the remaining. On the other hand, the SAT is very different. Points are awarded for correct answers and are withdrawn for wrong answers, but if a question is omitted, points are neither given or taken. Instead of making a wild guess, it’s better to leave a question blank.

  Preparing for a test is one of the most important things for getting a decent score. Here are a few tips students can try to improve their performance.

Before the test:

• Leading up to the test, study regularly. Don’t try to cram the day before.

• Study for about an hour the night before, but then go to bed early to ensure you get plenty of sleep.

• Eat nutritiously. You’ll be amazed by how much of a difference it makes.

During the test:

• Relax. If you get tense, try breathing slowly and deeply until you feel calm again.

• Skip the hard questions if you get stuck. You can always come back later if you have extra time.

• Read directions carefully. It’ll help you avoid careless errors that you would otherwise make.

• Review! Always go back and double-check your answers. You’ll find mistakes almost every time.

  Janet McHenry has study guides and practice test booklets for each test in room 100. See her if you’re interested.

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