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Test Taking Strategies


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Provides an overview of strategies for various kinds of tests ranging from multiple choice to essays

Provides an overview of strategies for various kinds of tests ranging from multiple choice to essays

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  • 1. Test-Taking Strategies Mack Gipson, Jr. Tutorial and Enrichment Center Gayla S. Keesee Education Specialist
  • 2. Strategies for Objective Tests
  • 3. Objective Tests
    • True/False
    • Matching
    • Multiple Choice
  • 4. Preparation:
    • Highlight and mark your notes and text.
    • Use mnemonic devices to aid memory.
    • Develop and use flash cards.
    • Test yourself! Simulate testing situations.
  • 5. True/False Tests True/false tests provide excellent odds for guessing. There are many ways to make a statement “false” so they can be tricky.
  • 6. Hints for Taking True/False Tests
    • Make Your Best Guess
      • Absolute statements which contain words such as “always, all, never, or none” tend to be false .
      • Statements containing qualifying words such as “usually, sometimes, many, few, may, can or frequently” are usually true .
  • 7. Examples of Absolute Statements
    • Sitting in the front of the room will assure you of getting a good grade.
    • You should always make diagrams when studying for a test.
    • Everyone loves to play Monopoly.
    • The best game for young children is Jacks.
  • 8. Examples of Qualifying Statements
    • Chess is usually played by adults.
    • Trivial Pursuit may be played by groups of people.
    • Some students use recall columns when they take lecture notes.
    • Some students who fail exams may suffer from high levels of test anxiety.
  • 9. Hints for Taking True/False Tests
      • When all else fails, it is better to guess true than false.
  • 10. Hints for Taking True/False Tests
    • Read Two-Part Statements Carefully
      • The World Health Organization has been successful in its campaign to eliminate smallpox and malaria.
      • Hint : Malaria is still a world health problem.
  • 11. Hints for Taking True/False Tests
    • Look for Negative and Double-Negative Statements
      • Hint: Look for words such as no, none, never, not, cannot , and prefixes such as in-, dis-, un-, il-, and ir- .
      • It is not unreasonable to expect Vietnam veterans to continue to be angry about their exposure to Agent Orange.
  • 12.
    • If a statement contains a double negative, cross off the negative word and/or the negative prefix.
    • It is not illegal to smoke in the dorm becomes
    • It is legal to smoke in the dorm.
    Hints for Taking True/False Tests
  • 13. Matching Tests Matching tests require you to recognize the correct answer from a list of alternatives. All you have to do is memorize.
  • 14. Hints for Taking Matching Tests
    • Glance through both lists first to get an overview.
    • Work from one side only—usually the one with the most words.
    • Answer the items you are sure of first.
    • Go through the list more than once, eliminating alternatives.
  • 15. Hints for Taking Matching Tests
    • Mark through the letter not the word so you can review later.
    • Don’t choose the first answer you see that seems correct; items later in the list may be better choices.
  • 16. Hints for Taking Matching Tests
    • Don’t be afraid to draw on information from other courses and your own experience to help you figure out the answers.
  • 17. Multiple Choice Exams
      • Multiple choice exams are very often not based simply on recognition of basic ideas.
      • They very often require you to reason through a problem using the course material.
  • 18. Multiple Choice Exams
    • You can’t be just familiar with the material
    • You must be able to
      • understand it thoroughly.
      • define it.
      • analyze it.
      • apply it.
      • think critically about it.
  • 19. Strategies for Multiple Choice
    • Strategy #1
      • Preview the exam.
      • Take note of questions that look easier.
      • Jot down notes or formulas in the margins.
      • Calculate how much time per question you have.
  • 20. Strategies for Multiple Choice
    • Strategy #2
      • Answer questions in a strategic order
        • Start with the easy questions first.
        • Raises your confidence with a fast start, settles you down, and ensures you get credit for what you know.
        • Get the most points in the least amount of time.
  • 21.
    • Strategy #3
      • Set goals for time
        • Allocate time in proportion to the relative value of questions
        • Save more time for questions that are worth more points
        • Pace yourself accordingly
    Strategies for Multiple Choice
  • 22.
    • Strategy #4
      • Read the questions carefully, twice if necessary.
      • On the first read, ask, “What topic is this question about?”
      • On the next read, ask, “What, specifically, is the question asking about that topic?”
    Strategies for Multiple Choice
  • 23.
    • Strategy #5
      • Work to eliminate incorrect alternatives rather than looking for the right answers.
      • Use logic and common sense.
    Strategies for Multiple Choice
  • 24.
    • Strategy #6
      • Circle or underline key words in questions.
      • Be wary of answers with absolute words like: all, always, never
      • More moderate words such as few , often , usually , and some are often better choices
    Strategies for Multiple Choice
  • 25.
    • Strategy #7
      • Use the “cover up strategy”
        • Try to recall a concept from memory or think out the answer before looking at the options
        • Helps minimize confusion and may speed your decision making
    Strategies for Multiple Choice
  • 26.
    • Strategy #8
      • Use the “true-false label” strategy
        • Connect the stem to each alternative making them a series of True-False statements.
        • Usually the item that breaks the pattern is the answer
    Strategies for Multiple Choice
  • 27.
    • Strategy #9
      • Temporarily ignore “all of the above”, “none of the above”, and other combination answers
      • Use the “true-false label” strategy on the alternatives that have actual content before considering combinations
    Strategies for Multiple Choice
  • 28.
    • Strategy #10
      • When given “all of the above” OR “none of the above” alternatives
        • realize that one wrong answer cancels out either alternative
    Strategies for Multiple Choice
  • 29.
    • Strategy #11
      • Translate double negative statements into positive phrases to reduce confusion
      • “not lacking” becomes “having”
      • “not any” becomes “some”
    Strategies for Multiple Choice
  • 30.
    • Strategy #12
      • Be alert to terminology that links the alternatives or questions to key areas of the course, lecturers, or chapters of course readings
      • Doing so may help you discard incorrect alternatives
    Strategies for Multiple Choice
  • 31.
    • Strategy #13
      • Read all choices before selecting the correct choice.
        • Look for similar alternatives
        • Examine each alternative closely for the one or two words that distinguish it from other answers
        • Assess the meanings of these words before selecting an answer
    Strategies for Multiple Choice
  • 32.
    • Strategy #14
      • When looking at similar alternatives, look for the alternative that
        • correctly uses course terminology
        • offers more detail
        • contains no errors
    Strategies for Multiple Choice
  • 33.
    • Strategy #15
      • If you absolutely have no idea about the answer to a question, go ahead and guess (providing you won’t be penalized for a wrong answer).
      • In general, it’s best not to leave any questions blank.
    Strategies for Multiple Choice
  • 34.
    • Strategy #16
      • Change your answers only if you know a good reason to do so (e.g., you realize you misread the question).
      • Changing an answer because you are unsure is often a bad idea.
    Strategies for Multiple Choice
  • 35. Strategies for Short Answer and Essay Exams
  • 36. Essay Exams
    • Essay and short answer exams emphasize critical and analytical thinking about the course themes.
    • They focus on
      • particular theories , concepts , ideas , readings , lectures and
      • how they inter-relate and apply to issues in the field of study.
  • 37. Preparation
    • Review the goals of your course as stated in the course description.
    • Seek clarification for any confusing theoretical or conceptual content of your course before the midterm and/or final exam.
  • 38. Preparation
    • Select probable topics
    • Study the topics selected
    • Predict test questions
    • Try to write answers to them
    • Create a key-word outline
    • Write a rough-draft
  • 39. Strategies for Exam Day
    • In addition to preparing well, it is essential to have a strategy or “game plan” for the actual writing of the exam.
  • 40. Short-Answer Tests
    • Use point distribution as a clue to how many pieces of information to include.
    • Plan what you will say before starting to write—outline your ideas.
    • Use the amount of space provided as to a clue to how much you should write.
  • 41. Essay Exams
    • Strategy #1 for Essay Exams:
      • Read over the questions.
        • Read the directions first
        • Study the question for clues to organizational pattern you should use
      • Watch for questions with several parts.
      • Note the relative value of each question.
      • Plan your time.
  • 42. Strategies for Exam Day
    • Strategy #2 for Essay Exams:
      • Read and re-read the questions, carefully noting what each question is really asking.
      • Understand exactly what each question word wants you to do.
        • Explain, describe, apply…
      • Make your choice.
  • 43. Strategies for Exam Day
    • Strategy #3 for Essay Exams:
      • Organize your thoughts before beginning to write.
        • brief outlines
        • mind-maps
        • diagrams
  • 44. Strategies for Exam Day
    • Strategy #4 for Essay Exams:
      • Write a brief introduction.
        • Adapt your thesis statement from the question you are answering.
      • Tell the reader what information you will provide to support the thesis.
  • 45. Strategies for Exam Day
    • Strategy #5 for Essay Exams:
      • Keep your points straightforward and clear.
      • Use simple, clear transitions to link your points.
      • Avoid opinions and judgments.
      • Illustrate your ideas with examples from course materials.
  • 46. Strategies for Exam Day
    • Strategy #6 for Essay Exams:
      • Sum up your work to reinforce the coherence of your answer.
      • Review the paper for obvious errors, legibility, labeling of questions, and changes you want to make.
      • If you run out of time, jot down major ideas.
  • 47. Make Your Answer Readable
    • Use ink.
    • Use clean, 8 1/2 by 11 paper.
    • Number your pages with your name on each sheet.
    • Do not scratch out sentences, draw a single line through them.
    • Write on one side.
    • Leave plenty of space between questions.
  • 48. Controlling Test Anxiety
  • 49. Controlling Test Anxiety
    • Some degree of anxiety is normal
    • Test anxiety is not an excuse for not being prepared.
    • Get used to a variety of test situations.
    • Control negative thinking.
    • Compose yourself before the test begins.
  • 50. Controlling Test Anxiety
    • Focus on answering the questions
    • Don’t focus on how well/poorly you are doing in the exam.
    • Don’t focus on what others are doing.
    • Deep breathing can help you relax