In grade 11, Florida students take the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) in science. This standardized test measures how well students have learned the standards set by state educators. While it isn't possible or advisable to cram for the test by trying to learn in a short time everything that might be on it, knowing what to expect and reviewing material will help you prepare.
Understand the Format
Familiarizing yourself with the types of questions on the test will ease your nerves. The 11th grade science FCAT has four types of questions: multiple choice, gridded-response, short answer and extended answer. Multiple-choice questions are answered by filling in the circle A, B, C or D on the answer sheet. Questions that require computations -- for which you may use your calculator -- are filled in on a grid. Write the number on the top of the grid, including decimal points if needed, and then fill in the appropriate numbers on the grid below it. Mark questions that require short or extended written answers accordingly, and write them in your answer booklet.
Review in Class
Your science teacher will spend several days or more reviewing material that may be on the test. Take full advantage of these review days by being in class on those days and taking careful notes. Ask questions when you don't understand a concept. Chances are that you're not the only one who doesn't understand. If you have taken extensive notes all year, you may be able to use your notes and highlight or add to them during the reviews. Draw pictures or diagrams to help you commit ideas to memory.
Take Practice Tests
Practice tests will help you become comfortable with the four types of questions on the test. They're a good representation of the types of questions that will be asked, giving you practice in the kind of thought and reasoning you'll use to answer them. Pace yourself so you spend about five minutes on the short response questions and 10 to 15 minutes on the extended response questions. You'll probably take several practice tests in class, and your teacher will give you links to more practice tests you can take on your own. Ask for extra help after class if you're struggling with particular parts of the test.
Having a strategy going in will make the test less overwhelming. For every section, first answer the questions you're sure of, then go back and complete the others. When you aren't sure of an answer, examine each part of the question separately. Sometimes you'll know one part and can then figure out the rest. The short and extended answer questions are worth between two and four points each, so you may receive partial credit for your answer even if it isn't completely correct. When you've finished, go back and check your answers. Make sure you understood each question correctly, filled in the correct circle, and answered every part of each question.
Barbara Bean-Mellinger is an award-winning writer in the Washington, DC area. She writes nationally for newspapers, magazines and websites on topics including careers, education, women, marketing, advertising and more. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Pittsburgh.