Tips for taking exams
- Get a good nightís sleep. Having a clear head is valuable.
- Eat something sensible. Donít go hungry or get too crazy on caffeine.
- Gather your supplies. Pen, paper, calculator, slide rule.
- Arrive early. Get a good seat. Get comfortable.
- Manage your anxiety. Some anxiety is natural and helpful. It sharpens your senses and gets the adrenaline going. Yet do try to stay calm. Remember, the exam is only one part of the learning process.
MOMENT OF TRUTH
- Read the directions thoroughly. Sounds obvious, but itís key. Is there a time limit? Will some questions count more than others?
- Relax. Take a deep breath. Take relaxing breaths at the start and continue breathing calmly.
- Skim through the entire test before you begin. Examine the structure. Count the pages. Think about how you should divide your time. If the test includes different types of questions (such as multiple choice and essay), begin with the type you do best on.
- Budget your time. Answer what you do know first. Leave more time for parts that require more effort. Plan some time at the end to review.
When you get stuck, identify the problem and move on.
If time is left over at the end, return to the parts you skipped.
daydream. Do the test at your own
pace Ė donít worry about who gets done first.
Ask for clarification. Make
sure you understand what each question is asking.
Give instructors exactly what they ask for.
When youíre confused, ask for help.
Most instructors try to clarify a question if they can.
Proofread your work. Under
pressure itís easy to misspell, miscalculate, and make errors.
MULTIPLE CHOICE STRATEGIES
- Read and consider ALL the options before you identify the best one.
- Eliminate the obviously incorrect answers first. This will save time and reduce anxiety.
- Mark answers clearly and consistently. Use the same method of marking your choices throughout the test. This may be important if questions arise later about an unclear mark. If your test is machine scored, avoid having extra marks on the answer sheet. They can be costly.
- Change your answers cautiously. Make sure you have a good reason. If you arenít certain, itís best not to change. Your first impulse may be best.
- Guess!! Some tests subtract points for incorrect answers. However, most multiple-choice tests give credit for correct answers without penalty for wrong answers. If so, answer every question.
- Look for structural clues. When the item involves completing a sentence, look for answers that read well with the sentence stem. If a choice doesnít work grammatically, itís probably not the right choice. In complex questions, the longest alternative may be the best one. The instructor may simply require more words to express a complex answer.
- Be cautious when the answer includes every, always, and never. There are few situations in which something is always or never true.
- Donít look for answer patterns. Instructors generally strive to make the order of true-false answers random. This means thereís no particular pattern to the answers. Selecting ďFalseĒ on question 35 should have no bearing on how you answer question 34 or 36.
- Go with your hunch. When you don't know the answer, choose the alternative with the intuitive edge. Be cautious about changing answers.
- Honor exceptions to the rule. If you can think of exceptions to the statement, even one exception, then the statement is probably false.
waste a lot of time pondering true-false questions.
- Give your essay an organization. Donít just ramble and free-associate. Decide what points you want to make and then make them.
- Read the question carefully and highlight the requested action. For example, if the says, "compare and contrast," underline those verbs and answer the question accordingly.
Use an introduction. Describe
the most important or main questions/ideas you intend to discuss in your essay.
Pretend youíre writing a short article and need an interesting opening.
- Develop the main body of the essay. Each paragraph should address an element required in the question.
- Use subheadings. They clarify the order of your thoughts and show organization.
- Donít strive for a literary style. The purpose of an essay exam is to assess learning. Say what you need to say as directly and clearly as possible.
into the essay all the relevant, specific ideas and facts you can muster.
key words and catch phrases.
- Use terms and names, examples and facts, and define concepts. Make connections between concepts. Tie ideas together.
- Write legibly. Instructors canít give credit for what they canít decipher.
- Use humor carefully. Donít substitute humor for an effective answer.
on just one side of the paper.
- Leave space between answers so your instructor can give feedback or you can add ideas later.
- Make your essay a good length. One too short will seem to be a feeble effort. One too long will seem padded. The typical student essay runs in the vicinity or two or three handwritten pages.
- Pay attention to spelling and grammar.
- Proofread your work. Go back over your work and make corrections.
- Draw conclusions and summarize if you have time. If you write like a reporter, i.e., you present key ideas first and follow with details, you increase the likelihood that youíll cover the most important and point-scoring information before you run out of time. In other words, write main ideas first and fill in details and examples later.
QUICK TEST-TAKING TIPS
- Remember partial credit. If worse comes to worst, write something down, anything. Partial credit has salvaged more than a few test scores.
- Write clearly and concisely. Write with clarity and purpose. Get down as much as possible in the most logical fashion.
- Always agree. Donít disagree with your teacher at test time. Regurgitation, however boring, is the best bet come grade time.
- Answer every question, if possible. Donít spend an hour answering the first question when you have five more of equal weight staring you in the face.
- Donít stress out. Getting uptight because you canít answer the first question is useless. Move on. Do the best you can. Excessive worrying only makes you less productive.