Test Taking Tips

Essay Test Tips
Math Test Tips
Multiple/Choice Test Tips
Preparing for Tests
The Day of the Test
Short Answers/Fill-in Test Tips
Test Anxiety
True/False Test Tips
Other Links

 

Essay Test Tips

Everyone has different methods of studying for test. The following are just suggestions to improve your study skills.

  • Estimate the time - Determine how much time you have to send on the essay. If you have one hour to take three essays, allow yourself only 20 minutes per essay. Watch your time closely.
  • Read directions carefully - Pay close attention to whether you are to answer the entire essay questions or only a specified amount (i.e., "Answer 2 out of the 4 questions").
  • Pay close attention to key instruction words - Read the question carefully looking for key words that request a specific "take" on the answer. These words include "analyze," "list," "describe," "explain," "identify," "list," "explain," "compare," and "contrast."
  • Make an outline - Before writing the essay make an outline to organize your thoughts. Write your ideas in the margin of your test or on a separate sheet of paper. An outline will help you stay focused as you write.
  • Write legibly - The grader must be able to read the essay in order to grade it. Write in complete sentences and paragraphs.
  • Proofread - If time allows, proofread your work. Did you say what you intended? Correct grammar and spelling errors.

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Math Test Tips

Everyone has different methods of studying for test. The following are just suggestions to improve your study skills.

  • Do the homework assignments daily - Most math subjects build on each other, and if you do not learn the first concepts in the class, you will have difficulty understand the new ones. Doing the homework assignments is also very good practice for the test.
  • Hard to remember formulas - Write down all hard to remember formulas, equations, and rules as soon as you get the test. When you get to a problem that requires a formula, you will not have forgotten it.
  • Read directions carefully - Make sure you answer all parts of the questions.
  • Show all work - Partial credit may be awarded. Write as legible as possible.
  • Skip hard problems - If you come to a hard problem, skip it and come back to it later if time permits.
  • Recheck problems - If you have time after finishing the test, recheck problems. One wrong sign could change the answer.
  • Write legibly - The grader can not give partial credit if he or she is unable to read the steps you used to find the answer.

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Multiple/Choice Test Tips

Everyone has different methods of studying for test. The following are just suggestions to improve your study skills.

  • Answer all questions in order - Don't skip around. You may forget to go back and answer them later. Identify doubtful answers by marking in the margin and review these if time permits after all questions have been answered. Do not linger too long on any one question.
  • Read question carefully - Watch for qualifying words that can change the meaning of the question. Circle them if it will help you interpret the question
    • Words like always, never, completely, and only are absolutes. These terms define concepts as right or wrong.
    • Watch for words like not, least, and except. It is easy to forget that you are supposed to select the negative response.
  • Anticipate the answer - Answer the question before looking at the possible choices.
  • Eliminate answers - If you are not sure of the answer, eliminate choices you know are not right.
  • Go with your first choice - If you have second thoughts about your answer, trust your first instinct, unless you are absolutely sure you were wrong.
  • Don't look for answers to fall in a pattern - They usually don't.
  • Don't leave answers blank - If there is no guessing penalty, always take an educated guess and select an answer.
  • Check your test over when you are finished - Look back at questions you marked questionable; something in the test might have helped you remember the correct answer.

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Preparing for Tests

Everyone has different methods of studying for test. The following are just suggestions to improve your study skills.

  • Review notes daily - Review your class notes while they are still fresh in your mind.
  • Manage your time - Make sure you have enough time to study. Don't try pulling an all-nighter. Start studying at least a week ahead of time. Study a little every day.
  • Find a comfortable place to study - Make sure there is good lighting and little distraction.
  • Attend the class before test day - Take careful notes and ask any questions about any items you may not understand. Know what to expect.
  • Review - Go over your notes, the textbook, and other assigned readings.
  • Organize your notes - Highlight important concepts, information, and formulas. Rewrite these on one sheet or on a series of index cards.
  • Make flashcards - A good way to memorize terminology is to make flashcards using cheap index cards.
  • Understand the material - Know the material. Don't just read through the material and try to memorize everything.
  • Form Study Groups - If you choose to study in a group, study only with those who are serious about studying.
  • Find a Tutor - Contact the Center for Learning and Teaching in Cupples Hall 320 for the availability of tutors in the subject. Do not wait until the day before the test to seek help.
  • Get plenty of Sleep - Make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before the test.

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The Day of the Test

  • Relax - If you have studied and are prepared, just relax, take a nice walk, or do a little exercise.
  • Eat before the test - Do not skip the meal before your test. Try eating a light snack just before the test. Avoid heavy foods that will cause you to become sleepy. Drink plenty of water.
  • Arrive Early - Show up at least 5 to 10 minutes before the test will start.
  • Bring all supplies needed - Come prepared with pencils, calculator, dictionary, or any other approved or required supplies.
  • Bring a watch - When you get your test, look it over to plan your time for each part of the test. Remember to allow a few minutes at the end to look back over the test when you are finished.
  • Be Positive - Keep a positive attitude throughout the entire test and stay relaxed. If you feel overwhelmed, just take a few deep breaths and continue.
  • Put your name on the test - Before you do anything to the test, make sure you put your name on the test and on the answer sheet.
  • Expect some anxiety - Being concerned will help you do your best on the test.
  • Remember others may finish before you - Don't worry if others finish before you; just concentrate on the test in front of you. You are allowed to use the full time that is allotted.
  • Review the test - Before turning the test in, double check that you have not left any questions unanswered. Make sure your name is on the test.

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Short Answer/Fill-In Test Tips

Everyone has different methods of studying for test. The following are just suggestions to improve your study skills.

  • Make flashcards - Write key terms, dates, and concepts on one side of an index card and the definition, event, and explanations on the other side of the card.
  • Anticipate questions - Think of questions that might be on the test and practice answering them. Most professors will emphasize what will be on the test.
  • Short answers - Read the questions carefully and make sure you provide everything that it asks.
  • Answer all questions - If you are not sure of the complete answer, write what you do know. Some times professors will give partial credit.
  • Answering fill-in the blank questions - There may be various answers. However, the professor usually is looking for a specific answer related to the material studied.

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Test Anxiety

Everyone has different methods of studying for test. The following are just suggestions to improve your study skills.

  • Expect some anxiety - Being concerned will help you do your best on the test.
  • Think Positive - Replace all your negative thoughts with positive ones.
  • Improve ways you prepare for a test - Read Preparing for Tests on this site or check out the pamphlets on testing available in the Center for Learning and Teaching.
  • Seek help - The Center for Learning and Teaching has tutors available for many of the basic subjects.
  • Learn to relax - Do some muscle relaxation exercises the night before the test and in the morning. Exercise will relieve the stress and sharpen the mind.
  • Do not wait until the last minute to prepare for a test - Start studying from the first day. Review all notes right after the lecture and every other day until the test.
  • Get plenty of rest - Do not stay up to cram all night for the test. Your body needs plenty of rest to function properly.
  • Eat before taking the test - Don't skip a meal. Eat a light snack just before taking the test. Fresh fruits and vegetables are commonly recommended to relieve stress. Avoid stressful foods such as processed foods, artificial sweeteners, carbonated soft drinks chocolate, eggs, fried foods, junk foods, spicy foods. Avoid high sugar content (candy), which may aggravate your condition.
  • Wear comfortable clothes - Dress in layers to accommodate test room temperature. Wear loose-fitting clothes.
  • Arrive early - Avoid putting too many tasks on the day of the test. Concentrate only on being relaxed.
  • Avoid negative test takers - They will encourage you to think you cannot do well.
  • Pick your seat - If seating is not assigned, pick a seat that will have few distractions, possibly a seat up front and away from the door.
  • The test is in your hands - Take a deep breath. You can do this. You are prepared, and you know the material. Before even looking over the test, write down any important formulas, facts, definitions and/or keywords in the margin so you won't worry about forgetting them.
  • Do essay and short answer questions first - The material is fresh in your mind, and you will not have to worry remembering ideas when you get to them later in the test. With Multiple/Choice, True/False and Matching, the answer is right there in front of you, and the ideas may be easier to recall later in the test.
  • Focus on what you are doing - Don't let your mind worry about what grade you will get or that others are finished before you. Keep your mind focused.
  • Control Anxiety - Stop, turn your test over, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to clear your mind. Now turn the test back over and begin again. You can do this.
  • Evaluate the test experience - After the test, list the strategies that worked and stick to them. List what did not work and look for ways of improving.
  • Seek help - If you still have major test anxiety, seek help. CMU provides counselors free of charge to current CMU students. Counselors may be reached on campus at ext. 58274.

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True/False Test Tips

Everyone has different methods of studying for test. The following are just suggestions to improve your study skills.

  • Think strategically - Usually there are more true answers than false. If there is no penalty for guessing, do not leave the answer blank; you have a 50% chance of getting it right.
  •  Watch for modifying or limiting phases - Make sure names, dates, and places are accurate.
  • Watch for key words - Qualifiers like never and always means the statement must be true all of the time. Usually statements with these qualifiers are false. Qualifiers such as sometimes, often, frequently, ordinarily or generally means the statement can be either true or false depending on the circumstances. These qualifiers often indicate true answers.
  • Long statements - If any part of the statement is false, the whole statement is false.

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Other Links

Other Study Guides and Strategies 

 
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