NMAT Testmanship Skills You Might Not Know

Saturday, December 21, 2013 Stef dela Cruz, MD 10 Comments

If you studied for NMAT but didn’t even consider learning about testmanship skills, be warned. Others just like you – brilliant, ambitious students who can’t wait to become doctors – already know a thing or two about it. Shouldn’t you be brushing up on testmanship techniques, too?

NMAT testmanship skills

You’ve studied for the NMAT. You’ve asked all your friends and professors all the right questions about what subjects and topics to focus on. You’ve been reading my blog, scouring it for tips on how to get high NMAT scores. If you’re determined to be a good doctor, you might also have read about these tips for medical students – yes, you’re a forward thinker.

But there’s a battle up ahead and you need all the ammo you can get. Let’s face it: Your testmanship skills just might be the proverbial chink in your armor.

5 NMAT Testmanship Skills to Master

I didn’t get an NMAT percentile rank of 99+ just by reading my books until my nose bled. No; I brushed up on how to answer questions on topics which I had no inkling about.

Although there are many testmanship skills, I believe these five are so far the most important. Most testmanship skills just end up confusing exam takers instead of helping them!

NMAT Testmanship Tip #1:
Read the question before you read the problem.

Sometimes, the problem is two paragraphs long! Realize that you have very little time to answer each and every question, so make sure to read the question before you read all the details. That way, you know what info to look for.

For instance, a problem may provide information on a train’s location, the distance from its present location to its destination, the number of passengers, the time it took to travel to its destination, and the weight of the train. Too much info to digest – and you would saved precious time if you knew that the question simply asks for the train’s speed!

NMAT Testmanship Skill #2:
Scan the answers before attempting to give an answer.

I’m not saying you won’t arrive at the correct answer if you don’t. However, it might be quicker for you to come up with the correct answer by eliminating choices which are obviously wrong.

For instance, when you’re solving a math problem asking for distance and you see that two of the four choices are in “kilometers per hour”, you will know immediately that those choices depict speed, not distance.

Remember, NMAT is a race. Your biggest sin is to run out of time! Make sure you answer all the questions as efficiently as possible. To do that, take a peek at the answers before you make your computations.

NMAT Testmanship Tip #3:
When unsure, rank your answers according to certainty.

I developed a habit of putting a checkmark beside the answer I think is best. If I see two or more correct answers, I rank them accordingly.

Additional tip: Write down a short note beside the answers to help you recall why you think one is right and the others are wrong. Just as important: Cross out the answer you are sure is wrong. It saves you time when you review your answers the second time around.

NMAT Testmanship Tip #4:
Save the worst for last.

Don’t freak out when you see a question that seems alien to you. Skip it; mark it properly. Come back to it later.

Answer the easy questions first. Once your mind is in full gear, you will find it much easier to answer tricky questions later. You will also find it reassuring to see that you have already answered 99 percent of the questions way before time is up.

NMAT Testmanship Tip #5:
Underline important facts.

As you read the problem and question, underline the details that you know you will need to give an answer. Aside from giving you a focal point, these underlined facts will make it easier for you to review your answers later.

For instance, take a look at this problem:

Maria, who just turned 12, likes to help her mom out at home. Her younger brother, Daniel, wants to follow in her footsteps. Maria can wash 5 dishes in one minute. Daniel, who just started learning how to wash dishes at a tender age of 7, can wash only 2 dishes in 60 seconds.If Maria and Daniel work together to help their busy mom, how fast can they finish washing 20 dishes in the upcoming family dinner?

There are too many words! Although the problem is simple, it looks difficult at first glance.

Now, look at the same problem – but with details underlined:

Maria, who just turned 12, likes to help her mom out at home. Her younger brother, Daniel, wants to follow in her footsteps. Maria can wash 5 dishes in one minute. Daniel, who just started learning how to wash dishes at a tender age of 7, can wash only 2 dishes in 60 seconds.

If Maria and Daniel work together to help their busy mom, how fast can they finish washing 20 dishes in the upcoming family dinner?

It looks easier to digest, doesn’t it? Segregating information makes it easier for your brain to process problems, especially when you’re under pressure!

If there are five testmanship skills you need to master, I believe it’s these five. Knowing how to chew and digest NMAT questions not only gives you better odds; it will help you calm your nerves, too!

Testmanship Skills for NMAT: Keep Practicing!

When you answer sample test questions, apply the above testmanship skills and see if it improves your performance. Remember, it won’t feel “natural” at first. You are probably hardwired to answer questions the way you always did.

It’s time to change that.

Efficiency, in answering tests or in anything else, can be learned and mastered.

There are only four choices for each NMAT question you answer, which means you have a 25 percent chance of getting it right. That also means you have a 75 percent chance of getting it wrong! Let’s make your odds better.

Increase your chances of “correct guesses” by practicing the above testmanship skills before the NMAT. Good luck, future doctor! Oh, and if your friends are taking the NMAT with you, don’t keep this to yourself; be a friend and share it with them!

Stef dela CruzAbout the blogger
Stef dela Cruz is a vegan doctor and writer. She received the 2013 Award for Health Media from the Department of Health. She is the editor of The Manila Bulletin's Animal Scene Magazine. Get in touch if you want to invite her as a speaker!


  1. nice tips,it applies to all really,even those who'll not take the NMAT,keep it up.

  2. Thanks, Barricles! Yes, the testmanship skills are applicable to almost all multiple-choice exams. Glad you found them helpful!

  3. hi Ms. Stef,

    first of, im grateful and thankful for the head up you shared to us. btw your blog is awesome! this 29th i'm going to take my first nmat and boy im excited like im going to be a doctor after i answer the final number of the final subtest :D just kiddin'

    second, that day is sunday. what is good on sunday is making friends for monday and im pretty sure that my name is on the list of passer [im just not sure if the list include 50 and below!?], but i'd like to show my appreciation and its a privilege by taking you out on a sunday-sandae-date.. dont worry im a nurse/firefighter/medic, you'll be as safe as the president ^___^

    sundate? yes?

    1. Haha so I'm curious, how did your NMAT go? Did you get to enroll in med school?

      On Sundays, I'm always at Mandala Park along Shaw Blvd. In case you're still up for making friends on a Sunday. Just let me know before you drop by! ;)

  4. I am so bookmark-ing this! Thanks Ms. Stef!

    1. Go ahead! Glad you liked what you read. I hope it helps!

  5. Thank God, I found your "worth keeping tips" Ms. Stef!I was about to give up already,huhu. Took the Nmat for the 4th tym, still got a heart breaking result. But thanks to you, to this, Ms. Stef! Makes me wanna try again 😊😊😊 Im well motivated alreaaady😊😊😊

    1. Glad this motivated you, Fretchie! Best of luck on your next NMAT!

      In case you keep getting low NMAT scores, you might want to read up on some of the reasons enumerated here. The reality I share there can be a bit harsh, but I hope it does help. :)

  6. ask lng po. alam nyo po ba magcompute ng percentile rank? :D

    1. Hi, France! For you to compute your own percentile rank, you have to know the distribution of scores, which I don't think they provide. :)