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IMAGE: Test taking tips

Test Taking Tips

With final exams right around the corner here are some
test-taking tips from members of the
Kent State University at Columbiana County faculty.

  1. Arrive early, and if permitted, have extra paper, pen, calculator, watch and any other material necessary.  Do not linger in the lounge.  Do not talk to other students, because their anxiety could be transferred to you and/or unprepared students might give you incorrect information.  Go to the room and just relax.  Turn off your cell phone.
  2. Listen carefully to verbal directions given by the teacher.
  3. Quickly skim over the entire test.  Make sure all the pages are there.  Before starting any of the questions, jot down memory aids, formulas, key words, rules, and brief notes in the margin of the test, if permitted to write on the test.  If not permitted, ask the teacher if you can write on a blank sheet of paper.  Then there is no possibility of being accused of cheating.
  4. Note the point value of each question.  Watch the clock to pace yourself, thus budgeting enough time to complete the test.  If stuck on a question, move on and come back to it later.
  5. Read all the directions carefully and then re-read them.  Underline key words in the question.  This will help you focus.  Do not lose points because you did not follow directions.
  6. Answer the easy questions first.  This will build confidence.  Then do the difficult questions.  Be aware that later items in the test might give you useful and needed information for the earlier items and vice-versa.  Be alert.  You may find clues in other questions that trigger an answer that you missed in an earlier problem.
  7. Never leave a question blank, unless you are penalized for incorrect answers or guessing.
  8. Show your work, especially if there is partial credit.  If you do the work in your head and you are wrong, you get zero credit.
  9. Keep your work organized, numbered and legible.  If the teacher cannot find it, or cannot read it, there is no partial credit.
  10. If you do not understand the question, ask the teacher if it could be rephrased.  If not, you have nothing to lose.
  11. Do not panic.  Say STOP to any anxiety.  Put your pencil down, close your eyes, relax and take a few deep breaths.  Reassure yourself that you are well prepared for this test and you will succeed.  Avoid negative attitudes; positive thinking brings about positive results. 
  12. Use all the time allotted.  Did you answer every part of the question?  Do your answers pass the “common sense test?”  Did you check your calculations?  Did you go back and answer any questions you left blank? 
  13. At the end of every test, be able to live up to the equation: “Determination  plus hard work equals success.”  Hand in the test, feeling confident and visualizing a high grade and know that you truly can attest to this definition of success as defined by UCLA Coach John Wooden: “Success is the peace of mind, which is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing that YOU did the best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
Some tips for specific test types:
  1. True-and-False.  Read carefully.  Look for qualifying words.  For example, “all, most, sometimes, never or rarely.”  “Always, only and never” generally indicate a false statement, but not always.  “Sometimes, often and frequently” may indicate a true statement.  Answer the question quickly.  In general, do not change your mind.
  2. Multiple Choice.  Read directions carefully to see if there is more than one possible answer.  Answer each question in your mind before you look at the selection of answers.  Skip questions you are not sure of and come back to them.
  3. Essay.  Write legibly.  Use an erasable ink pen or pencil.  Look over the test and note the number of questions and the total points for each question.  Spend the most time on questions with the most points.  Before writing, outline or make structured notes to help organize your thoughts.  Then when ready to begin, write on one side of the paper only.  The first paragraph contains the main answer to the question.  The remainder of the essay gives explanation and support to your answer.  Review to make sure you have a topic sentence for each paragraph and transitional thoughts leading to a logical conclusion.  Proofread and check for spelling and grammar errors. 
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