PIRATES Test Taking Strategy

Successful persons have developed a strategy to accomplish each of their goals. This strategy is usually a set of behaviors or thought processes that they have evaluated and decided best fit their specific set of life circumstances, habits, gifts and limitations. Successful students often have a strategy for how they approach their academic coursework and exams. Many times, the strategy used in college is different than the strategy used in high school due to the increased amount of independent reading and research activities in college courses. It may take a little while for a college student to discover the best academic strategy to use in their courses. They may also discover that their strategy for one class must be tweaked or even significantly changed from course to course. If a student is not performing academically at the level they desire, then the student should consider reevaluating their academic strategies.

One test taking strategy that was developed with middle and high school students has been shown to be effective with college students having a diagnosis of a Learning Disability.1 The strategy is called “PIRATES.”

PIRATES is an acronym of the first letter for each part of the test taking strategy. The acronym stands for: 1)  Prepare to succeed, 2) Inspect the instruction, 3) Read, remember, reduce (the question and answers), 4)Answer or abandon (the question), 5)  Turn back (return to skipped questions), 6)  Estimate (strategically guess answers), 7) Survey (confirm all questions are answered). There is a wealth of information available online about the PIRATES test taking strategy. For more information use your favorite internet search engine for the words “PIRATES test taking strategy.”

[1] Mary LaFrance Holzer, Joseph W Madaus, Melissa A. Bray, and Thomas J. Kehle, “The TestTaking Strategy Intervention for College Students with Learning Disabilities,”  Learning Disabilities Research & Practice (February 2009): 44-56.