Test-Taking Skills Lunch and Learn Student Success
What It Takes To PASSPreparation Attitude Sight Skills
Preparation•You need to take time to prepare for the test.•Approach your preparation time like any other study time… • Make sure you are in a quiet place free of distractions. • Have all the materials you need with you so you don’t have to waste time trying to find them later.•Think about the possibilities of the test before you step into thetesting room… • Predict exam questions by focusing on main themes from lecture notes, looking at old exams, or talking with the professor.
Preparation•Ask your professor about the test as early as possible… • What types of questions are going to be asked? Essay, multiple choice, short answer…? • How many questions are there on the test? • How long will you have to complete the test? • Professors like active test-takers!•Three good rules for studying early and often! • Review your notes from each lecture daily. • Read your textbook as required • Start your heavy preparation for a test about a week before.
Preparation•Use all available resources to help you figure out what to expecton the test… • Review old tests on file in the library (if available). • Examine past tests and quizzes to determine testing style and how you could improve.•Don’t forget the details! • Where is the test going to be? • When is the test? • What do I have to bring to the test (i.e. scantron, pencil, calculator)?•Stop preparing at least an hour before the test so you can clearyour mind and be refreshed.
Attitude•Tests are… • A measure of your knowledge of a particular subject according to your professor’s standards. • An opportunity for you to do well and prove to the professor exactly what you know. • Challenging and personally-rewarding experiences.•Tests are not… • Designed in a way to fail you. • The end of your college career if you fail. • Evil and diabolical attempts by your professors to take over your mind.
Attitude•You should approach a test calm, relaxed, and with self-confidence. • If you have taken the time to prepare, you don’t need to worry. • The professor has taken and given many, many tests. They know it’s stressful and they won’t give you anything that you are not able to handle. • Keep a positive attitude – you can succeed on tests!•Arrive at the testing site a little early to relax. • Don’t engage in negative conversations before the test about how bad everyone is going to do – they only bring about unnecessary stress.
Sight•During the test, use your eyes as well as your brain!•Look over the entire test before you begin. • Read all the available directions. • Underline key words and any special directions or instructions you don’t want to forget.•Look at your test if the professor has to make anycorrections and correct them on your paper before youstart.
Sight•Look at each and every question. • Determine the type of the question (multiple choice, true/false, short answer, essay). • If there are answer choices or a word bank, be sure to look at all the possible responses.•Look at the time during the test. • Wear a watch or use the classroom clock to monitor how much time you have left. • Very quickly calculate how long you have to spend on each question. It doesn’t have to be down to the second, but get an idea if you have two seconds or two minutes per question!
Skills•During the test, use skill to get a better grade.•Do the easy questions first. • Don’t get stumped on a question and waste time agonizing over it. Skip it and come back at the end.•Avoid over analyzing or over simplifying thequestions. • Questions are usually laid out simply – the answer choices throw people off. • When in doubt, ask the professor for clarification. It can’t hurt you!
Skills•Your first reaction is usually correct! • If you are torn between two answer choices, your first choice is usually correct. If you do change your answers, make sure you have a reason.•Use the test for information for other questions. • The test might have similar questions – compare the answer choices to see if you can find any similarities and commonalities.•Check your paper before you turn it in. • Circle your answer choices on the test and then check your scantron at the end to see if the answers match and that erasures are clear. • Make sure you’ve answered every question.
Skills•Approach each question with specific skills for that type ofquestion. • Stay tuned – we’ll come back to this idea of specific skills for common types of questions.•Use your skills after the test. • When you get the grade back, look at your test and see why you missed the questions you missed. Was it a lack of knowledge, misreading something, or a confusing answer choice? • Learn from your mistakes, and continue to do what you did right. • Take note of where the professor pulled the questions to help you study for the next test.
Types of Questions Let’s take a look at a few specific types of questions… True / FalseMultiple Choice & Matching Fill-In-The-Blank, Short Answer, & Essay
Multiple Choice•A skillful test taker looks at a typical multiple choice question likethis… •Each multiple choice question on this test will attempt to confuse you by containing a large, wordy, and often confusing introduction at the beginning, throwing in a useless fact like this seminar is given on Thursday, and then actually asking you who is the first President of the United States? A. There’s always a massively long answer choice that is just meant to confuse you as well. It drags on and on and just doesn’t seem to end B. There’s another answer choice that seems pretty close to the long one, but it’s shorter C. George Washington D. Abraham Lincoln E. None of the above
Multiple Choice•You can master the multiple choice! • Usually, multiple choice questions are going to have very long introductions with very little question involved. The information is sometimes there as a help, but its usually a distraction. Underline the question, then go back and analyze the information given with the question to determine its relevance. • Before you read the answer choices, try to answer the question yourself. Like we said earlier, it’s usually answer choices that get people confused. If you know what answer you’re looking for before you look for it, you’ll be less confused when you think you find it.
Multiple Choice•You can master the multiple choice! • Read all the answer choices carefully. Rate each choice as “not good” or “pretty good” as you read them. Pick the “pretty good” answer that most closely matches your original answer to the question. • The answer choices are likely to have at least one answer that is totally wrong and one answer that is incredibly long. Typically, these are distractors on the test. Read every answer, but be aware that some are there to throw you off from finding the correct one. • If two answer choices are very, very similar, chances are both of them are wrong.
Matching•Answering matching questions are very similar to answeringmultiple choice questions. • Read all the questions. Analyze and see if there is anything in the question that will help you find the answer. • Read the directions carefully. Pay attention to directions about using the answers more than once or if all of the answers are going to be used. • Answer all the easy questions first. If you can only use the answer choices once, this eliminates the number of possibilities left for the hard choices.
True / False•This is often the most tricky kind of question on tests because ofthe wording. • A statement is true if and only if everything within that statement is true. Any part of a statement that is false makes the entire statement false. • A statement is false if and only if something within that statement is false. Although part of the statement may be true, any part of a statement that is false makes the entire statement false. •Be weary of absolutes like “always” and “never.” •Absolute qualifiers are rarely true.
True / False•Rewrite statements that are negative. • If a statement contains a “not” or “no,” rewrite it to remove the negative and then reread it. If it is true, mark false. If it is false, mark true.•Watch out for relative qualifiers such as “usually” and“sometimes.” • Relative qualifiers are used in questions regarding general rules. If they are in the question, remember to think in general terms. Just because you can think of an example to disprove a statement doesn’t mean it isn’t a true statement.
Fill-In-The-Blank•Putting your pen on the paper is an extremely importantskill for mastering “written” or “open-ended” type questions. • Write legibly and large enough so that it is easy to read. • Be sure to use proper subject/verb agreement and grammar. • If you don’t know how to spell a word, don’t use it!•For Fill-In-The-Blank questions… • The number of lines per answer may dictate the number of answers to be used. • If you can’t remember the exact word, at least write something.
Short Answer•Reading the question is the most important part! • Understand what the question is asking before you answer it. Underline key words if necessary.•Answer just the question asked. • Don’t fluff with extra nonsense and risk muddling your correct answer with incorrect facts.•Process your short answers similar to an essay… • Step 1: Get off to the right start. Start your answer with a PROMISE that includes keywords from the question. • Step 2: Keep the promise. Include a REASON, an EXAMPLE, or an EXPLANATION. • Step 3: Follow up the promise. REINFORCE the logical train of thought with a MORE SPECIFIC EXAMPLE, REASON, or EXPLANATION.
Essay•Before an essay test… • List some possible essay topics. • Reread notes and the textbook regarding those topics and keep the ideas fresh in your mind. • Practice writing out the details of a topic and putting them in a logical order.•On test day… • Relax. You’ve been preparing so you should have nothing to worry about. • Eat before the test. Don’t go into the test hungry and start thinking about pizza instead of the essay question.
Essay•Allow enough time while taking the test to work on essayquestions. • A good rule of thumb is to allow about 20 minutes per essay – 5 for planning and 15 for writing and proofreading.•Read the question carefully. • It could be the best written essay in the world but if it isn’t on topic it isn’t worth any points to you on the test.•Plan the essay before you write it! • Sketch a quick outline of your answer. Decide what order you are giving your reasons and examples in advance.
Essay•Some general tips for writing the essay… • In a short answer question, it’s not as important to separate out your ideas. For essays, it’s vital. Be sure to break your ideas into paragraphs and include introduction and summary paragraphs if you have the time. • Use words from the question to answer the essay. It helps the grader to recognize which part of the question you’re answering. • Write something for every essay on the test even if you don’t know it. Don’t write fluff though – write the facts you know for sure and try to construct as best an answer as possible. • Use proper grammar and spelling. Proofread afterwards to make sure everything is correct.