College Test Taking From time to time, you will be called upon to “show what you know!” in the arena of Testing. What follows is information designed to aid you in doing your very best… First & Foremost… Put the test in perspective. Of course, you want to do your best, but remember: – This test is not the end of the world, all you are doing is putting marks on a piece of paper or on a computer screen. – Be prepared. Relax. – Know that you will pass the test with flying colors. Planning Your Approach Prepare physically for the exam. Prepare mentally for the exam. Find out about the test. Know what is expected of you. Design an exam plan. Join a study group. Use tutoring and other campus support resources. Tips for Taking Tests Get a good night’s sleep, Don’t linger on hard eat a hearty breakfast. questions – move on. Bring necessary supplies Don’t get distracted by to class. others finishing before you. Relax and control your Ask for clarification when breathing. necessary. Begin by previewing the Use clues in the test to jog entire test. your memory. Ask any questions Re-check your work before regarding the instructions. handing it in. Aids to Memory Ah, yes, Over-learn the material—go over it I remember again and again. it well. Use multiple senses—read, discuss, draw. Categorize the information. Use mnemonics. Associate ideas to things you already know. Visualize the concepts. Use flash cards. Use rhymes, songs, and acronyms. Don’t let it get to you: Control Your Test Anxiety Manage your pre-test time wisely. Re-program: Talk positively to yourself. Eat well & get some exercise. It’s only Don’t use drugs in an attempt to reduce a test. anxiety. Better to do breathing exercises. Chill out! Find support: a friend, a tutor or an instructor. Keep the test in perspective. Know that you are ready! Know What to Expect: Be Ready! Will you be able to sit in your usual seat? Will your instructor be present? Ask your instructor questions that will clarify circumstances surrounding the exam: when? How long? How many questions? What will be the format of the test? What do students who completed the course before you say about tests? What will security be like? Are you penalized for guessing? Avoid Cramming for Tests Regularly check the syllabus or calendar highlighting exam dates. Make a study plan for each exam. Keep up with assigned readings Review class notes regularly. Reward yourself for preparing productively. Plan to reserve the night before for concentrated study. A little at a time is much better than all at once. But If You Have No Choice, Cram Strategically Ideas for last-minute concentrated study: Clear the decks: no distractions. Use textbook study aids. Skim for highlights & main ideas. Divide and conquer: one thing at a time. Bring required academic supplies. Bring supplies for your spirit: candy, gum, etc. Organize your resources. Get some sleep. Strategies for Various Tests One strategy that works for Should I or almost all tests: shouldn’t I – If an answer comes quickly, go ? with it! – If you’re really not sure, come back to it later. Otherwise, different tests have different strategies: – Objective tests – Subjective tests Objective & Subjective Tests Objective tests include Good study strategies include: – multiple choice – using flash cards – matching – making a concept – true-false vocabulary list – reviewing your text’s study – fill in the blank guide Subjective tests – reviewing your notes – Short answer – work with a tutor – Essay questions – join a study group Multiple Choice Strategies Read the question carefully and try to answer it before you read the choices. Strike out wrong answers. Mark answers clearly and consistently. Change answers cautiously. Beware of second-guessing yourself. Read all the options before making a choice. If you don’t know an answer, move on. If all else fails, make an educated guess!! True-False Strategies Read the question carefully. Go with your hunch. Watch for key words: – Absolutes (never, etc.) are probably false – Relatives (some, etc.) are probably true – Double negatives – not untruthful, etc. If a part of it is false, all of it is false. Answer all questions unless there is a penalty for guessing. Fill-in-the-Blank Strategies Read thoroughly to be sure what is And the being asked. magic word Be brief and specific. is _______ I knew it all Give an answer for every blank. the time! Short blanks may have long answers and vice versa. Don’t assume anything. Remember an “a” before a blank wants a consonant word and “an” a vowel word. Watch for key “trigger” words. Short Answer Strategies These questions demonstrate how well you can explain concepts briefly. I Write clear, logical, and brief knew answers. that! Writing more than asked for or including information not asked for suggests that you do not understand the concepts. Other items on the test may provide clues to help you answer questions that stump you. Essay Question Strategies Read the question Conclude by summarizing carefully. how your thesis is What is the question supported. asking for? Watch grammar, spelling Outline the key ideas. and punctuation. Refer specifically to the Use humor if it fits in. question in your opening Be sure you have sentence. completely answered the Make a clear, coherent question. thesis statement. Write legibly. Develop the main body of Proofread your work. the essay to support your thesis statement. Okay, you flunked it! Now recover your balance. Don’t let yourself become undone by one failure. Use the disappointment to critically think about – the causes of the poor performance – crafting new strategies to improve your situation. Begin by reviewing your test results. Talk to your instructor or a tutor. Knowing When to Challenge Check to see that your grade has been Sure, I’ll calculated correctly. look at it. We all make Identify questions that were not clearly mistakes. written. Ask for a grade change if – you believe the instructor misunderstood you – the instructor made a actual error in calculating your score. Remember, instructors are unlikely to change a grade without good reason. Handle Emergencies Honestly Sometimes life gets in the way of test taking. Illness, sick children, and car accidents can and do happen to interfere with your ability to take an exam at its scheduled time. Call your instructor before the test to explain your situation. Ask if you can take a make-up exam in a courteous and respectful manner. Be prepared to document the cause of your absence. Tempted to cheat? Resist the Impulse Cheating can have ugly consequences: Cheaters struggle with a nagging conscience, self- doubt, dissatisfaction, and guilt. Humiliation results if you get caught. You may, at least, receive a “0” on your exam, or possibly be expelled from the college or university. Professors who catch you cheating may spread the word and refuse to write letters of recommendation, ruining chances for graduate study or participation in special programs. And remember the person you cheat the most is yourself. Finally, one more time: The Big Three Be prepared! Relax! Know you can do it!
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