Tips & Other Notes


Beyond the many services that your College or University's Learning Center / Student Services offers, they can help you better prepare yourself for the ultimate challenge of being a student: test-taking. Test-taking can be a very frustrating event for many students. You can, however, use a variety of strategies to better prepare yourself for test-taking. The anxiety you may feel will decrease if you use these helpful tips. As a student, you will encounter many different instructors, diverse teaching styles, dissimilar testing situations, and various kinds of tests. Thus, you may want to try using various strategies to better suit your needs, and to actively engage yourself in enhancing and improving your test-taking abilities.

Test - Preparation Hints

Attend class regularly, especially the class before an exam. The professor will usually give helpful hints regarding the exam. About a week or two before the test, ask your instructor about what you can anticipate being on the exam. Start preparing for your exam at least two weeks in advance. Listen carefully during lectures. Professors will often stress important topics or points with body language, voice intonation, or repetition. Put a mark in your notes by that information so you remember that it is important. Predict and make practice test questions. Utilize your lecture notes, textbook notes, handouts, previous tests and quizzes, and sample tests from each chapter. Study with a group that has good study habits. Use note cards to quiz yourself on concepts and vocabulary. Repeat information aloud. Hearing it is sometimes more effective than reading it for the millionth time. Review ALL class information for the exam. Professors often throw in questions based on information other than what they specifically talked about in class. Never cram for an exam, but do review the night before the exam. Get a good night's sleep and eat a healthy breakfast. Your mind, like your body, needs rest and energy to perform well.

"A Test is a Test... " NOT!

Every professor creates tests suitable for the course and subject matter to be mastered, and unless you have had a particular professor several times, the chance you have of "figuring out" a professor's testing style is slim without consulting the professor or other students who have had him or her. By using the hints below, you should be able to prepare for your exams in the most effective ways possible for each class.

Test-Taking Techniques

  • Always read the directions carefully.
  • Do a "memory dump" as soon as you get the exam. Jot down all formulas, mnemonics, and anything else you can remember from your studies on a blank scratch paper or in the test margins.
  • Skim the test to get a sense of what it covers so you can allot your time appropriately. Note the "weight" of questions. Questions worth more points should be completed in a timely manner, whereas the questions worth one or two can be finished after the larger, more difficult ones are complete.
  • Do the easiest questions first, and put marks next to the questions you are unsure of. When you have completed the exam, go back and finish the "marked" questions.
  • Don't be afraid to ask the professor if you have a question; perhaps others may have the same questions about confusing items or directions.
  • Look for key words that might trigger the right answer. Occasionally, the information needed to successfully complete one question lies within another question.
  • For essay exams: Before you start, "brain-storm" for a minute so you can recall the information needed to answer the question. Then set up a brief outline of your points so you do not forget anything while you are writing. This way, if you run out of time, you can jot down the items left in the outline for partial credit.If possible, save time to PROOFREAD!
  • For multiple choice tests: Always read all the choices; then mark the answers you know are not correct. Continue until you know the correct answer or can submit an educated guess.
  • For true and false questions: Watch for words that change the meaning of the statement (i.e., qualifiers like "always" and "never"). And remember, all parts of a statement must be true for the answer to be "true."
  • Always write carefully and legibly.
  • Ignore the pace of other students; always take your time.
  • Always save enough time to go through the test a second time.

<< Return to Tips and other Notes list