TESTS AND TEST TAKING STRATEGIES
Tests and examinations are a means of evaluating the instructor ability to deliver the required
material plus the student’s ability to master (understand) the material.
The Basic Peace Officer course will generally have a test or examination at the conclusion of
each subject. All test questions with relate directly to the learning objectives. If you understand
the learning objectives, you can handle the material and required examinations.
HOW TO USE
Study and apply the material as indicated
DEALING WITH TEST ANXIETY
Before the test
Be prepared! Learn your material thoroughly
A program of exercise is said to sharpen the mind
Get a good night's sleep the night before the exam
Approach the exam with confidence:
View the exam as an opportunity to show how much you've studied and to receive a
reward for the studying you've done
Don't go to the exam with an empty stomach
Fresh fruits and vegetables are often recommended to reduce stress.
Stressful foods can include processed foods, artificial sweeteners, carbonated soft drinks,
chocolate, eggs, fried foods, junk foods, pork, red meat, sugar, white flour products, chips
and similar snack foods, foods containing preservatives or heavy spices
Take a small snack, or some other nourishment to help take your mind off of your anxiety.
Avoid high sugar content (candy) which may aggravate your condition
Allow yourself plenty of time, especially to do things you need to do before the test and still
get there a little early
Relax just before the exam
Don't try to do a last minute review
During the test
Read the directions carefully
Budget your test taking time
Change positions to help you relax
If you go blank, skip the question and go on
If you're taking an essay test and you go blank on the whole test, pick a question and start
writing. It may trigger the answer in your mind
Don't panic when students start handing in their papers. There's no reward for being the first
Check out local centers and resources in your school for assistance!
Test Taking Strategies
Examinations are a fact of life in college and certainly for the TCLEOSE process. You must
pass a certification exam administered by TCLEOSE.
But the only time an exam should be a trial is when you aren't prepared for it, and the best
sign that you aren't prepared is when you have to stay up all night to "cram."
Cramming won't do very much for you (except make you so tired that when you take the
exam you won't be able to think clearly enough to answer the questions you DO know).
Here are some tips to help you develop test-taking skills
BEFORE THE TEST
1. Start preparing for your exams the first day of class. You can do this by reading your syllabus
carefully to find out when your exams will be, how many there will be, and how much they
are weighed into your grade.
2. Plan reviews as part of your regularly weekly study schedule; consequently, you review over
the whole quarter rather than just at exam time.
3. Reviews are much more than reading and rereading all assignments. You need to read over
your lecture notes and ask yourself questions on the material you don't know well. (If your
notes are relatively complete and well organized, you may find that very little rereading of
the textbook for detail is needed.)
4. Review for several short periods rather than one long period. You will find that you retain
information better and get less fatigued.
5. Turn the main points of each topic or heading into questions and check to see if the answers
come to you quickly and correctly. Try to predict examination questions; then outline your
6. It may seem "old-fashioned", but flashcards may be a helpful way to review in courses that
have many unfamiliar terms. Review the card in random order using only those terms that
you have difficulty remembering. (see index cards)
DURING THE TEST
There are also some things to keep in mind when you are TAKING the test.
1. First, read the directions carefully! Many points have been lost because students didn't follow
2. Remember to preview the test to see how much time you need to allot for each section. If the
test is all multiple-choice questions, it is good to know that immediately.
3. Work on the "easiest" parts first. If your strength is essay questions, answer those first to get
the maximum points. Pace yourself to allow time for the more difficult parts.
4. Find out if you are penalized for incorrect responses. (This is probably covered in the
directions. If not, make educated guesses. If there is a penalty, avoid guessing.
5. When answering essay questions, try to make a outline in the margin before you begin
writing. Organization, clear thinking and good writing is important, but so is neatness. Be
sure to make your writing legible.
6. Save time at the end of the exam to review your test and make sure you haven't left out any
answers or parts of answers. This is difficult to do under the stress of exams, but it often
keeps you from making needless errors.
AFTER THE TEST
1. If the instructor reviews the exam in class, make sure you attend. Many students choose to
skip class of the day of the review because "nothing is happening" that day. On the contrary,
this is an important class to attend because it helps reinforce the information one more time in
long term memory. Even if you aren't interested in the "learning" aspect of the class, it is an
opportunity to hear what the instructor was looking for in the answers. This can help you on
the NEXT exam.
2. Keep in mind that there are things you can do before, during, and after exams that will help
you succeed in the class.
ORGANIZING FOR TESTS
Begin reviewing early This will give your brain time to get comfortable with the information
Conduct short daily review sessions You can ease into more intense review session prior to
Read text assignments before lectures This will help you identify concepts that the
professor considers important and that are already somewhat familiar
Review notes immediately after lectures this will help you identify information that you do
not understand while the lecture is still fresh in your memory--and other students' memories
as well. When you review immediately, you'll have time to clarify information with other
Review with a group This will enable you to cover important material that you may
overlook on your own
Conduct a major review early enough to allow for a visit to the instructor during his office
hours if necessary
Break up the study tasks into manageable chunks, especially during major reviews prior
Studying three hours in the morning and three in the evening will be more effective than
studying at a six hour stretch. Studying while you are mentally fatigued is usually a waste of
Study the most difficult material when you are alert
Create study checklists
Identify all of the material that you will be tested on- list notes, formulas, ideas, and text
assignments you are accountable for. This checklist will enable you to break your studying
into organized, manageable chunks, which should allow for a comprehensive review plan
with minimal anxiety
Create summary notes and "maps"
Briefly map out the important ideas of the course and the relationships of these ideas.
Summary notes should display lists and hierarchies of ideas. Creativity and a visual
framework will help you recall these ideas.
Record your notes and significant portions of text on audiotapes so you can review material
with a walk-man. Having a tape of important information will enable you to study while
walking or relaxing in a nonacademic environment
Create flashcards for definitions, formulas, or lists that you need to have memorized--put
topics on one side of the card, answers on the other. Flashcards will enable you to test your
ability to not only recognize important information, but also your ability to retrieve
information from scratch
ANTICIPATING TEST CONTENT
Pay particular attention to any study guides that the instructor hands out in class before
the exam, or even at the beginning of the course! For example: key points, learning
objectives, particular chapters or parts of chapters, handouts, etc.
Ask the instructor what to anticipate on the test if he/she does not volunteer the
Pay particular attention--just prior to the exam--to points the instructor brings up during
Generate a list of possible questions you would ask if you were making the exam, then see
if you can answer the questions
Review previous tests graded by the instructor
Confer with other students to predict what will be on the test
Pay particular attention to clues that indicate an instructor might test for a particular idea,
as when an instructor: says something more than once writes material on the board pauses to
review notes asks questions of the class says, "This will be on the test!"
Cramming is useful in emergencies it is not good for long-term learning.
Strategies for cramming include:
1. Preview material to be covered
2. Be selective: skim chapters for main points
3. Concentrate on reviewing and learning main points
4. Don't read information you won't have time to review
EMERGENCY TEST PREPARATION
A structured approach to cramming
1. Preview material to be covered
2. Be selective: skim chapters for main points
3. Concentrate on the main points
Begin with 5 sheets of paper:
Identify 5 key concepts or topics that will be covered on the test
1. Enter one at the top of each page Use only key words or short phrases
2. In your own words, write an explanation, definition, answer, etc of several lines or so
for the key concept
3. Do NOT use the text or your notes
Compare your response of with the course source information (text and lecture notes)
Edit or re-write your understanding of each topic considering this course information
Sequence and number each page of your topics
1 - 5 in order of importance; 1 = most important
Follow the above process for two additional concepts if you have time
Place them in the 1 - 5 sequence and change numbering to 1 - 7
1. Follow the above process for one or two more concepts for a total of nine.
2. Follow your comfort level; add topics only as necessary
Try not to exceed nine concepts; focus on the most important
Review the day of the test, but try to relax just be foresee
TEN TIPS FOR TEST TAKING
When you take a test, you are demonstrating your ability to understand course material, or
perform certain tasks.
The test forms the basis of evaluation or judgment for your course of study.
There are many environmental conditions, including your own attitudes and conditions,
which influence how you perform during tests.
These suggestions may help:
1. Come prepared; arrive early for tests
Bring all the materials you will need such as pencil and pens a calculator, a dictionary,
and a watch.
This will help you focus on the task at hand
2. Stay relaxed and confident
Remind yourself that you are well prepared and are going to do well.
Don't let yourself become anxious; if you feel anxious before or during a test, take
several slow, deep breaths to relax
Don't talk to other students before a test; anxiety is contagious
3. Be comfortable but alert
Choose a good spot to take the test.
Make sure you have enough room to work.
Maintain an upright posture in your seat
4. Preview the test (if it is not timed)
Spend 10% of your test time reading through the test carefully
Mark key terms and decide how to budget your time
As you read the questions, jot down brief notes indicating ideas you can use later in your
Plan to do the easy questions first and the most difficult questions last
5. Answer the test questions in a strategic order
Begin by answering the easy questions you know, then those with the highest point value.
The last questions you answer should
be the most difficult,
take the greatest amount of writing, or have the least point value
6. When taking a multiple choice test, know when to guess
First eliminate answers you know are wrong
Always guess when there is no penalty for guessing or you can eliminate options
Don't guess if you have no basis for your choice and if you are penalized for guessing
Since your first choice is usually correct, don't change your answers unless you are sure
of the correction
7. When taking essay tests, think before you write
Create a brief outline for your essay by jotting down a few words to indicate ideas you
want to discuss.
Number these items in your list to indicate the order in which you will discuss them
8. When writing the essay test, get right to the point
State your main point in the first sentence
Use your first paragraph to provide an overview of your essay.
Use the rest of your essay to discuss these points in more detail.
Back up your points with specific information, examples, or quotations from your
readings and notes
9. Reserve 10% of your test time for review
Review your test
Resist the urge to leave as soon as you have completed all the items
Make sure you have answered all the questions.
Proofread your writing for spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
Check your math answers for careless mistakes (e.g. misplaced decimals). Match your
actual answers for math problems against quick estimates
10. Analyze your test results
Each test can further prepare you for the next test.
Use your tests to review when studying for final exams
Decide on and adopt which study strategies worked best for you Identify those that didn't
work well and replace them.
MULTIPLE CHOICE TESTS
Read the directions carefully
Know whether you must mark the one best correct answer or all correct answers
Know if you are penalized for guessing; Find out if an incorrect answer will cost you more
points than a blank answer
Read the stem of the question (the question itself as opposed to its options)all the way
through, then read each possible answer all the way through
Use these options themselves to provide you with hints about things you need to know
If you are uncertain of the correct answer, cross out the options you know are definitely
wrong, then mark the question so that you can reconsider it at the end of the exam;
Circle all negative words and "100% words" within the question stem and options. 100%
words are those that don't allow for exceptions, like "all"
"All of the above" answers are often correct.
If you know two of three of options are correct, "all of the above" is a strong possibility
If you're not sure about a number answer, toss out the high and low and consider the
middle range numbers
If you have no idea of the answer check for "look alike" options to find what you consider
the best answer among them; check for the most inclusive option--the option that contains the
Examine qualities, or characteristics, to discover resemblances. "Compare" is usually stated as
"compare with": you are to emphasize similarities, although differences may be mentioned.
Stress dissimilarities, differences, or unlikeness of things, qualities, events, or problems.
Express your judgment or correctness or merit. Discuss the limitations and good points or
contributions of the plan or work in question.
Definitions call for concise, clear, authoritative meanings. Details are not required but limitations
of the definition should be briefly cited. You must keep in mind the class to which a thing
belongs and whatever differentiates the particular object from all others in the class.
In a descriptive answer you should recount, characterize, sketch or relate in narrative form.
For a question which specifies a diagram you should present a drawing, chart, plan, or graphic
representation in your answer. Generally you are expected to label the diagram and in some cases
add a brief explanation or description.
The term discuss, which appears often in essay questions, directs you to examine, analyze
carefully, and present considerations pro and con regarding the problems or items involved. This
type of question calls for a complete and entailed answer.
The word enumerate specifies a list or outline form of reply. In such questions you should
recount, one by one, in concise form, the points required.
In an evaluation question you are expected to present a careful appraisal of the problem stressing
both advantages and limitations. Evaluation implies authoritative and, to a lesser degree, personal
appraisal of both contributions and limitations.
In explanatory answers it is imperative that you clarify and interpret the material you present. In
such an answer it is best to state the "how or why," reconcile any differences in opinion or
experimental results, and, where possible, state causes. The aim is to make plain the conditions
that give rise to whatever you are examining.
A question, which asks you to illustrate usually, requires you to explain or clarify your answer to
the problem by presenting a figure, picture, diagram, or concrete example.
An interpretation question is similar to one requiring explanation. You are expected to translate,
exemplify, solve, or comment upon the subject and usually to give your judgment or reaction to
When you are instructed to justify your answer you must prove or show grounds for decisions. In
such an answer, evidence should be presented in convincing form.
Listing is similar to enumeration. You are expected in such questions to present an itemized series
or tabulation. Such answers should always be given in concise form.
An outline answer is organized description. You should give main points and essential
supplementary materials, omitting minor details, and present the information in a systematic
arrangement or classification.
A question that requires proof is one that demands confirmation or verification. In such
discussions you should establish something with certainty by evaluating and citing experimental
evidence or by logical reasoning.
In a question that asks you to show the relationship or to relate, your answer should emphasize
connections and associations in descriptive form.
A review specifies a critical examination. You should analyze and comment briefly in organized
sequence upon the major points of the problem.
In questions that direct you to specify, give, state, or present, you are called upon to express the
high points in brief, clear narrative form. Details, and usually illustrations or examples may be
When you are asked to summarize or present a summarization, you should give in condensed
form the main points or facts. All details, illustrations and elaboration are to be omitted.
When a question asks you to trace a course of events, you are to give a description of progress,
historical sequence, or development from the point of origin. Such narratives may call for probing
or for deduction
1. Set up a time schedule to answer each question and to review/edit all questions
If six questions are to be answered in sixty minutes, allow yourself only seven
minutes for each
If questions are "weighted", prioritize that into your time allocation for each question
When the time is up for one question, stop writing, leave space, and begin the next
question. The incomplete answers can be completed during the review time
Six incomplete answers will usually receive more credit than three, complete ones
2. Read through the questions once and note if you have any choice in answering
Pay attention to how the question is phrased, or to the "directives", or words such as
"compare", "contrast", "criticize", etc. "
Answers will come to mind immediately for some questions
Write down their key words, listings, etc, as they are fresh in mind. Otherwise these
ideas may be blocked (or be unavailable) when the time comes to write the later
questions. This will reduce "clutching" or panic (anxiety, actually fear which disrupts
3. Before attempting to answer a question, put it in your own words
Now compare your version with the original.
Do they mean the same thing? If they don't, you've misread the question. You'll be
surprised how often they don't agree.
4. Make a brief outline for each question
Teachers are influenced by compactness, completeness and clarity of an organized
Writing in the hope that the right answer will somehow turn up is time-consuming
and usually futile
To know a little and to present that little well is, by and large, superior to knowing much and
presenting it poorly--when judged by the grade received
Most true/false tests contain more true answers than false answers.
When in doubt, guess true. You have more than 50% chance of being right
Pay close attention to qualifiers, negatives, and long strings of statements
Qualifiers are words that restrict or open up general statements.
Words like "no, never, none, always, every, entirely, only" restrict possibilities and
usually imply false statements. They imply a statement must be true 100% of the time.
Qualifiers like "sometimes, often, frequently, ordinarily, generally" open up the
possibilities of making accurate statements and usually indicate true answers. They make
more modest claims that are more likely to reflect reality.
Negatives are confusing.
If the question contains negatives, like "no, not, cannot," circle the negative and read the
sentence that remains. Decide whether that sentence is true or false. If it is true, the
opposite or negative is usually false.
Every part of a true sentence must be true.
If any one part of the sentence is false, the whole sentence is false despite many other true
statements. Therefore read long sentences carefully and pay attention to each group of words
set off by punctuation.