Test Taking Strategies
You must adapt test-taking strategies to the specific type of test you’re taking. The following strategies will help prepare you for taking tests.
GENERAL TEST TAKING GUIDELINES
1. Be prepared.
§ Spend as many hours as necessary to understand the material that will be covered on the test well enough to achieve a high score.
§ Since teachers often slightly modify information on tests to determine if students understand the information, spend time on honing test-taking skills.
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.
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.
4. Read the test directions very carefully and watch for details.
§ It is not uncommon to have two correct answers on a multiple choice question.
§ Frequently, test instructions will notify students that they only need to complete two questions, but there will be 5 options.
5. Plan how you will use the allotted time.
§ Take time to estimate how must time you’ll have for each question.
§ Pace yourself so you can complete the test in the allotted timeframe.
§ Complete the questions you know first to save time.
6. Maintain a positive attitude.
§ Do not lose confidence or waste time if you encounter confusing or difficult questions. Answer 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 you know are correct are “a.”
7. Rely on your first impressions.
§ The first answer that pops in your mind is probably correct.
§ It can be counterproductive to review answers and make changes.
8. Plan to finish early and have time for review.
§ Go back and answer difficult questions after answering easy ones.
§ If you are required to complete an essay, review it for spelling and grammatical errors.
§ Check to make sure you have completed the entire test. It is not uncommon for questions to be listed on the opposite side of a page.
9. Consider every test a practice session - analyze your performance.
§ It takes time and practice to develop effective test taking skills.
§ To determine whether your test taking strategies are working, take time to evaluate your performance after each test.
§ Be sure to take note of where you’re struggling. Are you struggling with essays or multiple choice questions?
§ Arrange to meet with teachers to discuss low test scores to determine what you can do to improve. This is highly recommended if you struggle with essay questions.
Multiple Choice Test Taking Strategies
College entrance exams, classroom tests, and most other examinations contain multiple-choice questions. Since you will no doubt encounter these types of tests if you are preparing to enter college, learning some test taking strategies will be very beneficial.
§ Read a question in its entirety before glancing over the answer options.
§ After reading a question, answer it in your mind before reviewing the answer options. This will help you prevent yourself from talking yourself out of the correct answer.
§ Eliminate answer options which you’re 100 percent sure are incorrect before selecting the answer you believe is right.
§ Read every answer option prior to choosing a final answer.
§ Make an educated guess if you do not know the answer if it will not count against your score.
§ It is best to stick with the answer you first chose after reading the question. It can be counterproductive to constantly alter answers.
§ When you encounter "All of the above" and "None of the above" answer choices, do not select “All of the above” if you are pretty sure an answer is incorrect. The same applies for “None of the above” if you are pretty sure an answer is true.
§ When two answers are correct in multiple choice questions with an "All of the above" option, then it’s probably correct.
§ In most circumstances, a positive option is probably true if there is also a negative one.
§ In many cases, the correct answer usually contains more information than the other options. This is good to know if you must guess.
Essay Test Strategies
Essay test questions can be very intimidating, but the following strategies will prepare you to effectively answer essay questions:
§ Before answering an essay questions, thoroughly read the instructions. Do not jump to the question without being sure of what is being asked. In many cases, the teacher is looking for specific type of responses and only of few of the questions must be answered.
§ Read essay questions in their entirety before preparing an answer. If the instructions are unclear, ask the teacher for clarification.
§ Provide as many details and specific examples when answering an essay question. Teachers are usually looking for very specific responses to see whether or not you’ve learned the material.
§ Manage your time wisely when answering essay questions, so you can answer all the questions, not just the easy or hard ones. If you finish before time is up, go back and review your answers and provide additional details.
§ When a question is only requiring facts, be sure to avoid sharing opinions. Only provide the information the instructions request.
§ In your answers, get to the point and be very clear. It is generally best to write short answers. If you provide numerous facts or details, be sure they’re related to the question.
§ Be sure your essays are legible and easy to understand. If a teacher has a difficult time reading or understanding what you’ve written, you could receive a lower score.
§ To organize your thoughts before answering an essay question, develop a short outline. This strategy will help you save time and keep your essay organized. You could also receive partial credit if your essay is full of relevant details even if it does not adequately answer the question.
§ Only spend time answering the question and keep your essays focused. Even an overly long introduction and conclusion can be unnecessary. If your essay does not thoroughly answer the question, an effective introduction or conclusion will do you no good.
§ Keep main ideas and other important details separated with paragraphs.
§ If time permits, review your answers and make changes if necessary.
§ Many students must rush their answers because they manage their time poorly. Be sure to read the instructions before answering, so you don’t answer more questions than necessary. Do not spend more time than reasonably necessary to answer each question. If you finish early, review your essays and add extra details if they enhance your answers.
§ When you are unsure of specific dates, just approximate dates. For example, if you know an event occurred sometime during the 1820’s, than just write, “in the early 1800’s.”