“Taking Tests”
Session 5
“Study is nothing else but a possession of the mind.”
~Thomas Hobbes
“I will study and get ready, and
perhaps my chance will come.”
~Abraham Lincoln
*Test-taking strategies will only enhance your ability to demonstrate your knowledge. The best
way to improve your test grades is with good time management and study habits. *
Day of Exam
Prior to Exam
Review frequently.
Keep up with readings.
Use memory techniques.
Use as many senses as you can to be an
active learner.
Make outlines or other visual aids.
During the Exam
Use a watch.
Make sure you have all materials (like
Reduce distractions.
Avoid panicking because others aren’t at
the same place you are.
Eat a protein rich meal.
Use the bathroom immediately before the
Give yourself enough time to get there
without being rushed.
Look over notes, but don’t try to reread
the book.
Avoid people in panic mode or those who
don’t seem to care.
After the Exam
Be in class.
Look over the test, and figure out where
you went wrong.
Go over the test with the professor.
Make a plan for what to do differently.
Taking Tests in Online Courses
During the Exam
All of the strategies previously
mentioned work for online
courses as well; however, there
are a few things to keep in mind
that are especially vital to taking
tests in an online course.
Before/Day of Exam
Study! Even if you have permission to use
the book/notes, you will likely not have
enough time during the exam to do so.
Double-check the online syllabus for the
time when your exam will be
Decide where you will take your test.
Ensure that you have a back-up plan to
follow should your primary computer
Watch the time!
Steer clear of social networking sites or
any other open applications that might
distract you from the exam.
After the Exam
Confirm your submission, and write down
any confirmation information you receive.
Print a copy of your exam.
Check Blackboard/E-college for grades
Review your exam (if you have access to
it) for areas in which you had difficulty. Email your professor for clarification.
Using Flash Cards as a
Memory Aid
1. Prepare the cards well in advance.
2. Review frequently for short amounts of time.
3. Break the cards into small groups at first, and
learn one group at a time.
4. Sort cards by topics or relationships to help
keep the course organization in mind.
5. Make the cards into questions that might be on
the exam.
6. Shuffle the cards frequently to make sure you
aren’t just learning them in order.
Multiple Choice Exam Short Answer Exam
 Read instructions carefully.
 Read the stem first. See if
you can recall the answer
before looking at options.
 Read ALL options.
 Focus on details.
 Make a choice. You can
come back if you’re not sure.
 Eliminate the answers you
know are wrong.
 Remember—later questions
can help with details for
earlier questions.
 Attend to grammar.
 Notice extreme qualifiers.
 Avoid spending too much
time on one question.
 Answer every question.
 Go with your gut. Why are
you changing your answer?
 Pay attention when you see
only one or two questions
with an “all of the above”
answer choice.
 Ensure that before the
exam you have. . .
 used flash cards to
 anticipated questions
that might be asked.
 Read the question
carefully, and make sure
you answer everything
 Answer the easy
questions first.
 Make an outline.
 Answer every question—
never leave a question
blank. If you don’t know
the answer to the
question, then make it
into a question you can
Essay Exam
 Read instructions carefully.
 Think. What is the
question asking you?
 Make an outline, aiming to
use one idea per
 Write down everything
you’re asked for and more;
include details when you
 Check that you’ve given an
appropriate answer to the
question: Are the facts
and/or opinions
appropriate? (Use
approximations if you’re
not sure of exact dates.)
 Budget your time.
 Proofread if there is time.
 Draw a line through any
mistakes: It is neater and
faster than erasing.
Know the differences among these common
essay-exam verbs/directives: analyze,
assess, compare/contrast, criticize, define,
discuss, explain, identify, illustrate, justify, list,
outline, relate, and review.
Extreme Qualifiers
At no time
Is not
Math Exams
 Choose a problem or
question that seems
easiest to you, and do it
 Stay in motion.
 Show your work.
 Think partial credit.
 Keep your work legible.
 Ask the instructor if you
don’t understand.
 Avoid panicking.
 Check your solutions if you
have time at the end.
 Hand in your paper when
time is called.
Matching Exams
True/False Exams
 If there is more than one fact
in the statement, check
corrections of each part. If
one part is false, the item is
wrong unless there is a
qualifying word such as
“usually” or “sometimes.”
 Words such as “always” and
“never” tend to indicate that
the statement is false,
especially if you can think of
an exception. “Always” and
“never” are absolutes; true
absolutes are rare.
 When the statement is given
negatively, state the item
without the “no” or “not” and
see if it is true or false. If now
the statement reads “true,”
mark it false.
 Find out if each item is used only one
or if some are used more than once.
 Check off the answers you have used
 Analyze the choices to see if any
parts of the term or word you know
will then allow you to associate it with
the right answer.
When you have no idea,
the best guess is. . .*
 the most general alternative.
 the longest.
 the middle value.
 probably not one of a pair of similar
 probably one of a pair of opposites.
 the one that agrees grammatically.
*This gives you a place to start—not necessarily the answer.
Works Cited
“Teaching a Study Skills System that Works” Landmark College