Tips on Test-Taking Techniques

Study with a Purpose

  • Ask yourself: What kind of test will I take? What is the best way to study for this test?
  • Find out if you are responsible for details, names, description or definitions and study accordingly.
  • Relate information in the text and your notes to your own experience outside of school.
  • Practice actively what you will be doing on the test. Write, if the test calls for writing; supply examples, if the test calls for them.
  • As you read, note unclear material. Look it up and/or ask the instructor if you have further questions.

To Remember Information

  • Practice recalling. Don’t just reread the material.
  • Use study cards to practice.
  • Use memory devices, such as words made up from the first letters of the items you must recall.
  • Review frequently for tests during the term.
  • Study hardest two days before an exam. Review all information previously learned.
  • The night before an exam, review leisurely.

On Exam Day

  • Be well rested.
  • Be confident. A positive attitude is an asset.
  • Get to the exam early.
  • Be cautious if you discuss the exam with others. They may confuse you.
  • Choose a seat with few distractions, for example, near the front where people won’t interrupt you when they move around.

Taking the Test

  • Read all of the directions; do sample questions carefully.
  • Schedule your time. Allot the most time to the questions worth more points.  Leave time at the end to go back and review your answers.
  • Pace yourself. Work rapidly through the test, answering all the questions that come easily to you.  Mark difficult topics and return to them after you have answered the easier questions.
  • Read carefully for cue words; underline them.
  • If you are not penalized for guessing, attempt a question instead of leaving it blank.
  • Review the exam before submission.

When the Test is Returned

  • Ask the instructor to go over the test.
  • If you don’t understand why an item is marked wrong, ask the instructor.
  • Ask yourself how you can do better.

Adapted from:

"Making it in College", by Colleen Cooper, et al., Michigan State University, 1977.


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