Test Taking Strategies


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

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Test Taking Strategies

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