Tips for taking tests in general

Tests measure how you are doing in a course
Usually test scores are the key determinants of your course grade. Doing well on tests requires test-taking skills, a purposeful positive attitude, strategic thinking and planning, and, naturally, a solid grasp of the course content.

This article contains tips that apply to all types of tests: Additional tips are available for problem solving tests, objective tests, and essay tests.


15 Tips you should know before taking your next test:
Tip 01. Be prepared:
Bring at least two pens/pencils with good erasers, a calculator with enough batteries and any other resources that your instructor allows you to.


Tip 02. Be proactive:
Bring a watch to the test with you so that you can better pace yourself.


Tip 03. Keep it together:
Keep a positive attitude throughout the whole test and try to stay relaxed. If you start to feel nervous take a few deep breaths to relax.


Tip 04. Don’t do it!
Keep your eyes on your own paper, you don't want to appear to be cheating and cause unnecessary trouble for yourself.


Tip 05. Scan it:
When you first receive your test, do a quick survey of the entire test so that you know how to efficiently budget your time.


Tip 06. Stay in motion:
Do the easiest problems first. Don't stay on a problem that you are stuck on especially when time is a factor.


Tip 07. Have a strategy:
Do the problems that have the greatest point values first.


Tip 08. Be effective and efficient:
Don't rush but pace yourself. Read the entire question and look for keywords.


Tip 09. Ask questions:
Ask the instructor for clarification if you don't understand what they are asking for on the test.


Tip 10. Write legibly:
If the grader can't read what you wrote, they'll most likely mark it wrong.


Tip 11. Pay attention:
Always read the whole question carefully. Don't make assumptions about what the question might be.


Tip 12. If you don't know an answer, skip it:
Go on with the rest of the test and come back to it later. Other parts of the test may have some information that will help you out with that question.


Tip 13. Stay focused:
Don't worry if others finish before you. Focus on the test in front of you.


Tip 14. If you have time left when you are finished, look over your test:
Make sure that you have answered all the questions, only change an answer if you misread or misinterpreted the question because the first answer that you put is usually the correct one. Watch out for careless mistakes and proofread your essay and/or short answer questions.


Tip 15. Last but not least:
Double check to make sure that you put your first and last name on the test.


Want More?


Tip 16. Familiarize yourself with the test:
Ask the professor how long it will be and what kind of questions will be on it. Ask your instructor which concepts are most important, which chapters to focus on, and what you will have to do on the test. Also ask for some sample test questions and whether there is a copy of a similar test on file in a library.

Look over the tests you have already taken in the course to predict what you will need to prepare for. Your aim is to determine both the content of the questions and the type of memory/intellectual skills you will be asked to use. Examples of these skills include:
• Remembering specific facts.

• Comparing, contrasting, and otherwise interpreting meaning in the information studied.

• Applying principles and theories to solve problems (that may not have been covered explicitly in the materials).

• Predicting possible outcomes given a set of variables.

• Evaluating the usefulness of certain ideas, concepts, or methods for a given event or situation.


Tip 17. Overview all the work to be done and schedule time to do it:
On the basis of your familiarity with the test, make a list of all the tasks you must complete to prepare for it. Given what topics you expect to be most important on the test, set priorities among your study tasks and plan to do the most important ones first.

In scheduling your test preparation work, keep as much as possible to your own routines. If you do not know how to make a study schedule, refer to the article on time management.


Tip 18. Avoid the "escape syndrome":
If you find yourself fretting or talking about your work rather than studying, relax for a few minutes and rethink what you are doing - reappraise your priorities and if necessary rethink your study plan to address your worries and then START WORKING.


Tip 19. Deal with unread materials:
Approach your unread materials keeping in mind all of your study plan, how much time you have to catch up on your reading, and what it is you need to pull out of the reading. Preview the material, dividing it up into parts looking for the organizational scheme of the work.

Decide what parts in the reading you can omit, what parts you can skim, and what parts you want to read. Set time limits for each part, and keep to the limits. Use the following techniques to help move through the reading:
• Skim all the reading material first (except the parts you have decided to omit) so you will have at least looked at everything before the test. Take notes on what you skim.

• Read, emphasizing key sentences and concentrating on understanding the ideas expressed. Try editorializing as you read by asking yourself questions regarding WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, and HOW about the information.

• Recite the material to immediately, self-testing at the end of each part to enhance recall even without later review.


Tip 20. Review actively:
Integrate notes, text, and supplementary information onto summary sheets by diagramming, charting, outlining, categorizing in tables, or simply writing paragraph summaries of the information. Try to create a summary sheet for each study session, or for each main idea, or for each concept.

Use as many of the suggested ways possible, bringing all your senses as well as your sense of humor to bear on these summary sheets to make them really personally meaningful. The more of yourself you put into these sheets, the better you will remember the information.


Tip 21. Practice doing what you will be doing on the test:
If you will be solving problems, then that is what you need to do while studying; if you will be conjugating Spanish verbs, then write these out.

Answer unassigned problems or questions in the text or anticipate test questions by thinking frequently, 'If I were making up this test, I would probably ask...', and then answer your question. Remember, the single most effective way to prepare for any test is to practice doing what you will have to do on the test.


Tip 22. Gather up:
It is frequently useful to study with other well-prepared students and to attend any review sessions if available. Use these forums to clarify any questions you have about the materials and the test.

Do not expect review sessions to repeat any lectures nor to present any addition information. The purpose of these sessions is to give you the opportunity to ask questions about the information to further your understanding.

Add this page to my Favorites! | Share this page with friends!

Back to top