Test Taking Strategies from EducationCorner.com

  • 1. Be prepared

    There is no substitute for preparation. If you haven't studied throughout the semester. If you haven't reviewed prior to test day. If you don't know the test material, all the test taking strategies in the world won't save you. Preparation is key.

     2. Always arrive early and take a moment to relax

    • You'll increase your confidence if you take time to relax.

    • You'll be able to narrow your focus for the upcoming test.

    • Arriving early may allow you time to ask any last minutes questions of instructor or listen to explanations being provided to other students. Some study resource suggest that it's better to arrive on time to avoid "brain pickers", student who ask questions right before a test, but we disagree. We believe there is more to be gained by arriving a little early.

    3. Listen attentively to last minute instructions given by the instructor

    • It is not uncommon for teachers to alter test details at the last minute.

    • If you miss test instructions, test taking anxiety will increase.

    • If you miss test instructions, don't be scared to ask for instructions to be repeated.

    4. Do a memory dump

    A memory dump can be a particularly useful strategy for improving performance certain types of tests.

    • As soon as you begin the test, write down information that you will likely need to know for the test and you fear you may forget. (ie., formulas, equations, dates, lists, etc.)

    5. Read the test directions very carefully and watch for details

    • Test questions and directions often contain valuable information. Always read all directions carefully to ensure you understand what is being asked.

    • It is not uncommon to have two correct answers on a multiple choice question. Pay attention to details.

    • Frequently, test instructions will notify students that they only need to complete two questions, but there will be 5 options.

    6. Plan how you will use the allotted time

    • Take a moment to estimate how must time you'll have for each section of the test and each question. Allow enough time for more difficult sections or sections that are weighted more heavily in the final test grade.

    • Pace yourself so you can complete the test in the allotted time frame.

    • Complete the questions you know first then come back and tackle the problems you're not sure about after.

    7. Look for cues

    • If two answers are similar, they're usually not the correct answer.

    • Pay attention to grammatical matching between the question being asked and answers. If an answer seems right but doesn't match grammatically with the question, it probably isn't the correct answer.

    • Look for cues from other questions.

    8. Answer all the questions

    Even if you're running out of time and can answer all the questions fully, it's important to answer all questions. Many professors will give partial credit for partially completed questions or if you're able to show your work. (Note: There are some tests in college where you are docked points for guessing. This is rare and usually be announced by the professor prior to the test.)

    9. Maintain a positive attitude

    • Do not lose confidence or waste time if you encounter confusing or difficult questions. Answer the questions you know first.

    • If you have no clue about the correct answer, make an educated guess if it will not count against your score.

    • Disregard patterns. It is probably coincidence if a string of multiple choice answers that you know are correct are "a."