Test Taking TipsBefore the testPreparation is the key to success. Before the test you should ask the teacher-and write down- what material the test will cover and what types of questions to expect. Focus your study and practice answering questions in the same format.
Here are some other good study habits:
- Avoid cramming. Instead study a little every day.
- Review the material more than one time.
- Answer practice questions in the textbooks.
- Teach the subject to your parents or a study partner.
- Get a good night’s sleep and have a healthy breakfast before the test.
On the Day of the Test: All Tests
- Listen closely to verbal directions and read carefully any instructions on the test itself.
- Ask the teacher to explain any instructions you don’t understand.
- Scan the entire test for the types of questions and use this information to pace yourself.
- Jot down memory aids, formulas, or important facts in the margins.
- Answer the questions you know first and come back to the harder ones later, remembering to mark unanswered questions so they’re easier to find.
- Double check your answers, but only change an answer if you misread the question or found something in the test that indicates your first answer was incorrect. Otherwise, stick with your first guess because research shows it’s usually the right answer.
- Answer every question and put the answer in the right spot.
Types of Questions
Tests are often a blend of several types of questions. Review and practice these strategies for various questions types.
- Circle key words in the question.
- Remember: if any part of the answer is False, the whole answer is False.
- Every part of the question must be True for the answer to be True.
- Choose True for statements with details and qualifiers like “often” and “usually.”
- Choose False for statements that are shorter with absolutes like “always” and “never.”
- Watch for words like “never”, “always”, “every”, “all”, “none”, and “only”; they generally indicate a False answer.
- A guess has a 50-50 chance of being right.
- When guessing choose True because there are usually more True answers than False.
- Read the whole question carefully and try to decide what the answer is before reading any of the options.
- Read all of the answer options, then choose the one that most closely matches your answer.
- When unsure, eliminate answers that are clearly incorrect. This increases your odds of choosing the correct answer.
- If forced to guess, choose the longest, most detailed answer.
- Cover the answer choices then read the test question carefully. Think of your answer before looking at the choices so you’re less likely to be confused by the decoys.
- If there is a range of numbers to choose from, choose an answer in the middle. Most decoy answers tend to be at the extremes of the range.
- Choose the answer with more details and qualifiers like “often” and “usually” because the answers with absolutes like “always” and “never” are harder for the teacher to create and defend if the answer is challenged.
- When an answer choice is “All of the Above,” choose it if two or more statements are true. If at least one of the answers is false, don’t pick “All of the Above.”
- When an answer choice is “None of the Above,” do not choose that if at least one of the answers is true.
- When two of the answer choices use similar phrasing, choose one of those two answers because teachers usually create decoy answers opposite the correct answers. For example:
“Lines of latitude and longitude…”
a. have letters on them
b. never cross
c. have numbers on them
d. are written on street signs
Answers a and c use similar phrasing, so it’s best to pick one of those choices.
- Prepare a sheet with important facts or formulas to avoid spending time looking them up.
- Mark important pages with sticky notes or paper clips.
- Practice using the index to look up specific topics.
- Skip questions when the answer can’t be found quickly, mark them to come back to later.
- Do not copy from the book! Use the book as a guide to write answers in your own words.
- Read the sentence carefully for clues about the type of information needed-a person’s name, a number, a fact.
- Watch for grammar clues. For example, the word “an” before the blank indicates that the answer starts with a vowel.
- Notice the types of blanks in the sentence. One short blank calls for a single word answer. A longer blank indicates a longer answer, such as a phrase.
- Scan the whole column of possible matches rather than stopping at the first likely answer.
- Answer the questions you are sure of first.
- Cross out choices as you use them.
- Keep going through the columns to make more matches.
- Avoid guessing until you are absolutely stumped.
After the TestYou can learn almost as much from your mistakes on a test as you can from studying. Go over test results and read the teacher’s comments. Look for patterns of errors to help in future studies.
- Were questions left blank due to lack of time? Ask your teacher or parent to help you practice judging the time needed to complete a test and pacing yourself when taking a test.
- Were any errors due to not following instructions? Remember to read directions carefully and circle important words.
- Were mistakes made because you didn’t know the subject thoroughly? Next time, set aside more study time or try new study strategies.
When you feel confident in your test-taking skills you have less test anxiety and are able to focus on showing what you have learned and that is what tests are all about!