The Study Skills Initiative: Taking Tests

Now, if you are reading your text, going to class, taking notes, and reviewing periodically, you are in good shape for any test. Still, tests can strike fear in any student’s heart. So here, in no particular order, are some strategies that have worked for me over the years:

  • Believe me, coming late to a test and without the necessary materials does not give you the emotional state that leads to success. So make sure you get to the room on time, and know what materials you’ll need. Have some back-up pens and pencils. Know if you can use your notes and book. And check the batteries on your calculator the day before. (If you are taking a web course and have proctored tests, make sure you have a photo ID so that you can even enter the testing room.)
  • Don’t get bogged down with any one question. If the first question stumps you, move on to the next. Complete all the ones you know; then return to the harder ones. Sometimes, the material in one question will jog your memory for the answer to another.
  • Eliminate obviously wrong answers on multiple choice. Even if you don’t know the correct answer, a 50/50 shot is better than a 1/5.
  • For essay questions, always take a minute to write a rough outline of the answer so that you don’t forget any main points. Write all that you know, but don’t spend time “bluffing.” A professor who has to read sixty or so essay answers has no patience for time wasters.
  • Make it easy for your professor to read your essay answers. Start with the main point and clearly start each paragraph with a topic sentence. Also use your neatest handwriting and give yourself enough time to proofread for errors.
  • If you start to get anxious during the test, stop. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and then return to the test. Find a question that you know the answer to.

There are lots of test-taking sites out there, but here’s one that is fairly comprehensive with good advice.

You may never enjoy taking tests, but you can learn to master them!

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