More Test Taking Strategies To Start Teaching Your Students

by | Mar 29, 2022 | Teaching Strategies, Test Prep | 0 comments

Last week, we talked about ten different test-taking strategies your students can use on multiple-choice questions. This week, I thought we should discuss strategies to use when different types of test questions are given to students. 

The most common question formats are:

  • Multiple choice
  • Matching
  • Fill-in-the-blank
  • Short response


Currently, the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) uses:

  • Table match
  • EBSR (evidence-based selected response)
  • Mutli select
  • Selectable text
  • Editing task choice


Today, we will look at each of these formats and discuss steps students can take when answering these.

What Are The Different Types Of Test Questions?


A matching question has two columns. Students typically have to match a term, person, event, etc. in one column with a definition or a description in another. 

Overall, these types of questions are easier than others because they use lower-level thinking. Even so, these questions can be difficult if there are a large number of items to be paired. Also, students with specific disabilities may find these questions difficult. For example, a student with OCD may have difficulty skipping selections, while a student with vision issues may struggle with looking from one place on the page to another. 

  1. Read over the column with fewer words first, so you know what you are trying to identify (vocab, people, events, etc.)
  2. It is easier to scan the shorter word list to find the match, so you should read the column with more information and match it to the other column.
  3. Match all of the pairs you are 100% sure are correct. Skip anything you don’t know.
  4. Cross off choices as you pair them together. You should only cross off the letter or number of the choice – not the entire selection. If you later discover there is a mistake, it’s easier for you to change your answers if you can still read the choices.
  5. Go back and match the selections you were not sure about the first time.



These types of questions can be written as multiple-choice, but they can also be used with a word bank. They have a sentence with a word or phrase missing and students have to determine which answer fits the sentence. 

  1. Read all of the possible answers so that you are familiar with the choices. 
  2. Read each sentence problem multiple times. Each time, read the sentence with one of the possible answers in place of the blank. Sometimes this helps you to “hear” the correct response.
  3. Fill in the answers that you are sure are correct first, skipping the other problems until the end. 


Short Response

A short response (or open response) question requires students to answer the question in sentences. Sometimes these questions only require a few sentences, while at other times they may need one or two paragraphs. 

  1. Read the question carefully, underlining any keywords or phrases.
  2. Take time to make notes about the topic in the margin or on a scratch paper. The notes do not need to be in complete sentences. 
  3. Decide which facts fit the question. Cross off notes that don’t answer the question. 
  4. Write your response in complete sentences. (The amount of space provided for the answer is a clue as to how long the response is expected to be.)
  5. Any response is better than leaving it blank. If you don’t know the answer, write anything you know that is related to the topic. 

Table Match

A table match question uses a grid. Statements are written along the side of the grid, while the options are written across the top. Students must match the statements to the choices by completing the grid. 

For example, there might be 4 characteristics on the side and the name of 2 characters at the top. Students will decide which character matches the choices. Another example would be sentences that students need to put in order to retell the story.

  1. Read directions carefully. Be sure you understand what is being asked. 
  2. When you fill in bubbles on the grid, be sure you are on the right line. Use an extra pencil or your finger to hold your place on the grid. 


As we know, there are many different forms of multiple-choice questions. They are a problem that asks a question and has possible answers beneath it. 

  1. Try to think of the right answer before looking at the choices.
  2. Read all the choices even if you think you found the right response. 
  3. Cross off the letters of choices you think are incorrect. Don’t cross off the entire selection because you need to be able to read the choices in case you change your mind. 
  4. Pay close attention to words like none, always, except, usually, best, and most likely, as these words will make a difference in whether a selection is correct or not.
  5. Your first guess is more likely to be right than a later guess, so don’t change an answer unless you are 100% sure you chose the wrong one. 


Vocab Questions

The FSA may ask questions to determine the meaning of words.

  1. Replace the target word with a possible answer, then read the sentence to yourself. Often some of the answer choices don’t make sense in the sentence. 


Evidence-Based Selected Response (EBSR)

EBSR questions are usually multiple-choice questions that have two parts. Sometimes both parts will be multiple-choice, but often one part is not. The answer in Part B is connected to the response in Part A. 

  1. Be sure to read each question carefully. Circle the keywords found in the questions. 
  2. Consider how the two questions are connected. The answer selected in Part A should relate to the answer in Part B. 



These multiple-choice questions require students to select a specific number of correct responses. They usually have more than four possible answers. 

  1. Circle how many correct responses you need to identify.
  2. Follow the other steps for multiple-choice questions.
  3. Double-check that you have marked the correct number of answers.

Selectable Text

This type of question uses a portion of the text as the answer choice. Each sentence is given a letter and students need to select the sentence or sentences that answer the question. 

  1. Always read the question carefully. Be sure you understand what you are being asked to do.
  2. Even if you think you remember the selected text, reread the answer choices. Think about which sentences fit the question being asked. 
  3. If you are sure a sentence is not the answer, cross off the letter of that choice.
  4. Cross off the letter(s) of the correct responses. 


 Editing Task Choice

These multiple-choice questions ask students to correct mechanics or grammar. For FSA, a passage with errors is given, with the errors identified. These errors are then pulled out as multiple-choice questions. There are four possible answers, with one option being “correct as is”.

  1. Read the statement. If you don’t understand the statement, go back to the text and read the paragraph for context.
  2. Test the answers by rereading the statement with each of the possible choices in place of the underlined word(s). Often, some of these choices won’t sound right when you put them in the sentence.

A FREE Resource For Your Classroom!

I hope these strategies are helpful for you and your students! I created a resource for you to give your students that explains these strategies for standardized tests. Click on the photo to join my newsletter and get your copy now!

Over twenty plus years, my educational career has spanned four continents and two states, as well as eight grade levels!

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