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Taking Tests

Ten Tips for Test Taking

These suggestions may help:

 Come prepared; arrive early for tests
Bring all the materials you will need such as pencils and pens, a calculator, a dictionary, and a watch.
This will help you focus on the task at hand
 Stay relaxed and confident
Remind yourself that you are well-prepared and are going to do well.
Don't let yourself become anxious; if you feel anxious before or during a test, take several slow, deep breaths to relax
Don't talk to other students before a test; anxiety is contagious
 Be comfortable but alert
Choose a good spot to take the test.
Make sure you have enough room to work.
Maintain an upright posture in your seat
 Preview the test (if it is not timed)
Spend 10% of your test time reading through the test carefully, marking key terms and deciding how to budget your time.
Plan to do the easy questions first and the most difficult questions last.
As you read the questions, jot down brief notes indicating ideas you can use later in your answers
 Answer the test questions in a strategic order
Begin by answering the easy questions you know, then those with the highest point value.
The last questions you answer should
be the most difficult,
take the greatest amount of writing, or
have the least point value

 When taking a multiple choice test, know when to guess
First eliminate answers you know are wrong.
Always guess when there is no penalty for guessing or you can eliminate options.
Don't guess if you have no basis for your choice and if you are penalized for guessing.
Since your first choice is usually correct, don't change your answers unless you are sure of the correction
 When taking essay tests, think before you write
Create a brief outline for your essay by jotting down a few words to indicate ideas you want to discuss. Then number the items in your list to indicate the order in which you will discuss them
 When taking an essay test, get right to the point
State your main point in the first sentence.
Use your first paragraph to provide an overview of your essay.
Use the rest of your essay to discuss these points in more detail.
Back up your points with specific information, examples, or quotations from your readings and notes
 Reserve 10% of your test time for review
Review your test; resist the urge to leave as soon as you have completed all the items.
Make sure you have answered all the questions.
Proofread your writing for spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
Check your math answers for careless mistakes (e.g. misplaced decimals). Match your actual answers for math problems against quick estimates
 Analyze your test results
Each test can further prepare you for the next test.
Decide which strategies worked best for you.
Identify those that didn't work well and replace them.
Use your tests to review when studying for final exams.

Multiple Choice Tests

Read the directions carefully
Know whether you must mark the one best correct answer or all correct answers
Know if you are penalized for guessing;
Find out if an incorrect answer will cost you more points than a blank answer
Read the stem of the question (the question itself as opposed to its options) all the way through, then read each possible answer all the way through
Use these options themselves to provide you with hints about things you need to know .
If you are uncertain of the correct answer, cross out the options you know are definitely wrong, then mark the question so that you can reconsider it at the end of the exam;
Circle all negative words  and "100% words" within the question stem and options.  100% words are those that don't allow for exceptions, like "all"
"All of the above" answers are often correct.
If you know two of three of options are correct, "all of the above" is a strong possibility. If you're not sure about a number answer,toss out the high and low and consider the middle range numbers .If you have no idea of the answer check for "look alike" options to find what you consider the best answer among them;
check for the most inclusive option--the option that contains the most information.

Adapted from Walter Pauk's How to Study In College.

The Essay Type Exam
Organization and neatness have merit

Before writing:
Set up a time schedule to answer each question and to review/edit all questions
If six questions are to be answered in sixty minutes, allow yourself only seven minutes for each
If questions are "weighted", prioritize that into your time allocation for each question
When the time is up for one question, stop writing, leave space, and begin the next question. The incomplete answers can be completed during the review time
Six incomplete answers will usually receive more credit than three, complete ones
Read through the questions once and note if you have any choice in answering questions

Pay attention to how the question is phrased, or to the "directives", or words such as "compare", "contrast", "criticize", etc.  See their definitions in "Essay terms"
Answers will come to mind immediately for some questions
Write down their key words, listings, etc, as they are fresh in mind. Otherwise these ideas may be blocked (or be unavailable) when the time comes to write the later questions. This will reduce "clutching" or panic (anxiety, actually fear which disrupts thoughts).

Before attempting to answer a question, put it in your own words

Now compare your version with the original.
Do they mean the same thing? If they don't, you've misread the question. You'll be surprised how often they don't agree.
Make a brief outline for each question

Teachers are influenced by compactness, completeness and clarity of an organized answer
Writing in the hope that the right answer will somehow turn up is time-consuming and usually futile
To know a little and to present that little well is, by and large, superior to knowing much and presenting it poorly--when judged by the grade received.

Writing & answering:

Begin with a strong first sentence that states the main idea of your essay. Continue this first paragraph by presenting key points.
Develop your argument

' Begin each paragraph with a key point from the introduction

' Develop each point in a complete paragraph

' Use transitions, or enumerate, to connect your points

' Hold to your time allocation and organization

' Avoid very definite statements when possible; a qualified statement connotes a philosophic attitude, the mark of an educated person

' Qualify answers when in doubt. It is better to say "toward the end of the 19th century" than to say "in 1894" when you can't remember, whether it's 1884 or 1894. In many cases, the approximate time is all that is wanted; unfortunately 1894, though approximate, may be incorrect, and will usually be marked accordingly.

Summarize in your last paragraph
Restate your central idea and indicate why it is important.


Complete questions left incomplete, but allow time to review all questions

Review, edit, correct misspellings, incomplete words and sentences, miswritten dates and numbers.

Not enough time? Outline your answers

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