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Tom Siebold

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Test Taking Strategies

Are you test Savvy?  Getting good grades on tests is mostly a matter of active engagement in class, careful reading of the assignments, and sensible preparation for the test.  Even with all this there is one more piece left to the puzzle for success—understanding test strategies.  This means being knowledgeable about some fundamental test-taking guidelines.  The “navigational tips” below will help steer you though the rough waters of both objective and essay exams.

General Test Strategies

1. Arrive on time and have the appropriate materials.

2. Listen carefully to the instructions.  When you receive your test, read the directions carefully and thoroughly.  To be successful you must know what is expected of you.

3. Take a moment to scan the entire test to get the overall “lay of the land.”  Briefly scan the section you are about to begin.  In this scanning you should…

  • determine the length of the section and estimate how long it will take you to complete it,

  • get a feeling for the difficulty of the test questions,

  • take note of the diversity of questions,

  • know the extent of choice you have in the test.

Having a clear perception of a test’s scope is an important step in developing a workable test strategy.  Note: Do this scanning process very quickly.

4. Plan your time wisely.  In your mind block out chunks of time to complete the various sections of the test.  There is nothing more frustrating (not to mention devastating) than to spend 60% of your test time on 40% of the test.  If you have to rush frantically to finish panic will rear its ugly head.

5. Time is a valuable commodity; don’t give it away.  In other words, use all the test time you have.  If you finish early, go back and proof read or check over difficult questions.

Hint: Be aware of your timing but don’t be overly consumed by the clock.

6. Don’t get nervous if you have a memory lapse.  It is normal and can happen easily when you feel stressed.  Simply move on to something else and come back to the trouble area later.  You will be surprised how quickly something will come back to you after a pause.

7. after a particularly long answer or section, take a brief moment to catch your breath and give your brain a second or two to change gears, “OK, I have finished this section, click, what’s next?”