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Test Taking Skills

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Video Transcript

Student Support Services Test-Taking Skills Workshop

Remember, every student who takes a test feels some anxiety. You're not alone. Effective studying gives you confidence. Before the test, ask the instructor what materials you need to know.  If it's a math test, ask what types of problems you should be able to do.  The night before, do not stay up late. Budget your time to review and still get enough sleep.  Make your test study time the last thing you do that night before the test. It will stay in your mind through the night.  Before the test, have a good breakfast. The morning of the test, you need to pay attention to your nutritional needs.  Also before the test, don't look -- right before the test; don't look at your notes or your books. It may add to your anxiety.

Predicting test questions.  Listen and watch for hints from the instructor.  Predicting test questions can help you get more involved in your test preparation and in your class and lectures.  What's written on the board or in a PowerPoint presentation?  Do the instructor make gestures, pause, and look at the class when some material is presented?  Is anything read out loud during class?  Note what questions the instructor asks the class.  Have you written these questions down?  After each class, write some possible test questions in your notebook.  Try to think like your instructor. What do you think is important from the course?  In a study group, can you answer questions made up by classmates?  Note when the instructor says, "This will be on the test." 

 Some general test-taking strategies: get to the test early and find a comfortable seat.  Ignore what other students have to say before and during the test.  Focus on what you know.  Listen for specific directions from the instructor, and read all directions before you begin the test.  Ask questions to make sure you understand the directions.  Budget your time, and show all your work.  If you don't know the answer to a question, put a mark beside the question and move on to the next question. Look for key phrases.  Always proof your test before turning it in.  Write your answers clearly, and watch out for careless errors.  

Answer easy questions first. You may find the answer to a question you don't know when your read another question.  Answer all questions, unless there's a penalty for guessing.  Avoid negative self-talk, which includes telling yourself that you can't do it.  

Be confident, and say, "I can." Don't worry if others finish before you.  There's no prize for finishing first. Don't rush. Don't let your frustration or uncertainty with another question affect your performance on the current one.

 Take one question at a time. Double-check your answers. Consider checking them after every five questions.

Underline key words or phrases on multiple-choice tests. Restate the question in your own words. Consider all the options. Don't select the first one that looks good and forget to read all the others. Use the process of elimination. Make the best choice through the process of elimination by eliminating choices that are completely false or impossible considering the other choices.  Eliminate choices that are partly false.  Eliminate choices that are too general. Cross out answers as you eliminate them.  Last-resort strategies for multiple-choice.  These may indicate incorrect answers.  These are specific determiners such as "always" and "never," unknown words, extreme choices, and jokes.  These may indicate correct answers: qualifiers like "sometimes," "generally," "usually," "most often," et cetera are likely to be correct.  "All of the above" is likely to be a correct answer. If two answers are opposites, one of these choices is likely to be true. Numbers, such a dates, years, statistics in the middle range are likely to be correct.

Essay exam strategies: for a clear, well-organized answer, think before you write.  Budget your time. Scribble a rough plan or outline.  Check your draft.  Make sure that you have a plan.  Have you included all pertinent material?  Have you supported it well?  Write your answers as you would a theme. In the beginning, it's a restatement of question and thesis of your paper.  Come straight to the point.  In the middle, develop, explain, support, and argue your point.  And in the end, form your conclusion. Take a position, support it, and keep it clear, accurate, effective and readable. Remember, an essay test is an essay written under pressure.

Thanks for your participation. This was a video developed by Student Support Services staff.