Quick test taking tips for the “Rusher”

Build executive functioning skills to slow down the rusher.

You know the “Rusher”. This is the student who rushes through his or her work without reading the full directions, makes careless errors, only writes down part of the homework assignment and thinks checking work is the worst offense in the world.

Here is a question from a mother whose son is a Rusher.

Q: How can I help my son who has been working very hard and who has brought up his homework and quiz scores but still brings home very poor grades on his tests. We have been working on his executive functioning skills, and they have improved. However, when he takes a test he rushes through and makes many mistakes.

It is wonderful that this student has brought up his weekly grades and has improved his executive functioning skills. This is a huge achievement. There is one more important skill he still needs to learn, namely slowing down while he takes the test.

My recommendation for Rushers is that they be taught to underline the key concepts in the questions on the test. In other words, if the test says: “Name two actions that prove your point about why the main character is innocent”. Your son would underline 2 actions, prove point, is innocent. These are the main points that need to be included in his answer.  Here is another example:

math directions


In the example above, many Rushers would miss the direction asking them to write how many zeros are in the answer. Often times it is the little things that they miss that cause the Rusher to give incomplete answers and lose points on a test. These points add up and suddenly they have a low score even though they knew the material.

I find that many students who rush through tests often don’t read the questions carefully. Teaching your son to slow down and read the question, underline the key concepts, and then make sure that those key concepts are included in his answer may help improve his test performance.


You can check out Study Strategies Made Easy: A Practical Plan for School Success by L. Davis, M.Ed. and S. Sirotowitz, M.Ed. as well as, Executive Functioning Workbook by K. Fried, PsyD. and M. Mullin, Ph.D. for more in depth study strategies.

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