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Ten Tips for Test Taking

  testing index

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When you take a test,
you are demonstrating your ability
to understand course material, or perform certain tasks.

NB:  If you have any doubts about the fairness of tests, 
or of the ability of tests to measure your performance, 
please see your academic counseling service.

The test forms the basis of evaluation or judgement
for your course of study.

There are many environmental conditions,
including your own attitudes and conditions,
which influence how you perform during tests. 

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
    Mark key terms and decide how to budget your time
    As you read the questions, jot down brief notes indicating ideas you can use later in your answers
    Plan to do the easy questions first and the most difficult questions last
  • 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.
    Number these items in your list to indicate the order in which you will discuss them
  • When writing the 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.
    Use your tests to review when studying for final exams
  • Decide on and adopt which study strategies worked best for you
    Identify those that didn't work well and replace them.

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The Study Guides and Strategies web site was created and is maintained by Joe Landsberger,
academic web site developer at the University of St. Thomas (UST), St. Paul, Minnesota.  It is collaboratively maintained across institutional and national boundaries, and  last revised September 04, 2002 . 

Permission is granted to freely copy, adapt, print, transmit, and distribute
Study Guides in settings that benefit learners. On the WWW, however, please link rather than put up your own page since pages are frequently modified and improved in consideration of educational research.  No request to link is necessary.   Additional contributions and translations are warmly received.

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