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Test Taking Skills

Review Before Tests

  • Begin your test preparation activities as far in advance as you can.
  • Go over your texts, notes, and homework. Make sure you understand and remember every part.
  • Then try to summarize the material into one or a few pages. Study your summary until you become very familiar with it.
  • Learn to anticipate what is going to be on the exam. You should consult with your professor.
  • Practice. You want to be able to do a certain type of problem on a test and do it reasonably quickly as there is only so much time. If it takes you 15 minutes to do a derivative that took everyone else only 4 minutes, then you will probably not have enough time for other problems on the test.

You should break your studying into small units and practice, practice and practice. It is best that you try to simulate a test by doing some old tests under time pressure and with the same conditions as the real test (such as no books).

Study with others if you can. As both a learner and a teacher in study group, you can increase your comprehension of important material.

General Test Taking Strategies

  • View a test as a challenge or opportunity to perform, not as a punishment.
  • Review extensively before you go to the test.
  • Get to the class early enough to get seated, settled and relaxed-but not so early that you get caught up in the last-minute study panic.
  • Look over the entire examination before answering any questions, read all the directions and budget your time.
  • Read the test questions carefully. Highlight the important words or phrases.
  • Answer the easy questions first.
  • Review your answers after finishing your exam. Normally you will be able to correct one or two mistakes. This will make your score much better. Remember it is the score that matters, not how early you turn in your test.

Suggestions for Problems-Solving Tests

  • Spend time connecting concepts with pictures, symbols, formulas, and diagrams.
  • Solve sample problems in your text and/or problem sets given on homework assignments.
  • Work practice problems until you are confident that you understand how the formula or principle works in all possible cases.

Managing your anxiety

  • Try not to exaggerate the importance or significance of the test.
  • Avoid negative thoughts since they will increase your anxiety.
  • Take 30-60 seconds out, sit back and relax.
  • Try some relaxation techniques such as tense-relax your bicep and breathe deeply.

By Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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