In a course on "Study Skills" offered quarterly at Northern Virginia Community College's Annandale campus, counselor Judy Oram suggests this "test strategy ":

Listen carefully to all spoken directions.

Read carefully all written directions.

Pay attention to scoring. "Some things are weighted 15 points. Some, like an essay, get more points."

Look over the whole test first "to get an idan of the time involved."

Do the easy questions first. "It gives you confidence. You can click them right off."

In essay questions, get all the help you can from "cue words." Among them: compare, contrast, criticize, define, describe, diagram, discuss. a

The last thing: Edit, check and proofread your answer. "Stay to the bitter end if you can and double check."

Sue Garland, head of Traveling Tutors, one of several organizations offering help to highschool students preparing for their verbal and math SAT's (Scholastic Aptitude Tests), advises:

Read extensively in different subject areas. She suggests news magazines, and those specializing in science, the humanities and the arts "to become familiar with the vocabulary."

Read for comprehension in areas with which you are not familiar -- science, for example -- especially if they are subjects you usually avoid because you don't like them.

In reading comprehension questions, work only with the information given in the question. "Kids go too far reading into the question."

In math questions, don't spend too much time on any one problem. Read through the test. "There may be easy questions at the end."