Acquire Test Taking Strategies & Skills - Recognize that taking assessments is a critical feature of our educational system. Your success often weighs heavily on your performance on your unit tests and final exams. There are some fundamental guidelines that can be helpful to help boost your performance.
1. Test Preparation
- Preparation should begin on the first day of class!
- Study a little everyday - review material from prior lessons.
- Go to review sessions.
- IMPORTANT: Ask the teacher to specify an area that will be emphasized on the test!
- Give yourself ample time to review!
- Find a well-lit, quiet and spacious location to study in order to stay awake, avoid distractions and get organized. Turn off any devices in which social media can be a distration!
- Start by studying the most important material first.
- Review notes, homework, review worksheets, former assessments and reading material.
- Put main ideas/information/formulas onto a summarized review sheet.
- Take frequent short breaks in order to improve retention.
- Eat healthy snacks while studying - apples, bananas, pretzels, etc. Avoid anything with excessive sugar or caffeine.
- Don't try to reading through everything and/or memorize it! As the unit progresses, focus on trying to understand the material by asking "why," organizing the information or seeking clarification.
- Consider studying with others who are serious about the test.
- Test yourself or have someone test you to determine your level of understanding. Utilize review questions and tests in your textbook at the end of each chapter.
- Be sure to get a good night's sleep; eat healthy before a test; use restroom before hand.
2. Test-Taking Tips
- Go into the test prepared with two pens/pencils and a calculator, if applicable.
- Throughout the test, try to keep a positive attitude, pace yourself and try not to rush.
- Be sure to do a quick preview of the test before getting started. Budget your time accordingly and assess the difficulty of each problem.
- You may want to start with the easiest problems first. If you get stuck, seek clarification, try to write something (in order to get the ball rolling) and/or skip it and go back later.
- Consider the point-value of each problem. Take multiple-choice questions just as seriously as a free-response question. Even though they are typiclally worth less points, there are more of them!
- Don't panic if you start to run out of time or see others finish before you. Stay calm and finish strong!
- If you finish early, look back over the test for anything skipped or for potential careless mistakes. Reread and proof the essay and/or short answer.
- Read the question THEN devise an answer PRIOR to looking through the answer choices.
- If you are uncertain, try eliminating some of the answer choices and narrow down the answer.
- Watch for answers that are meant to throw you off or trick you before making your final decision.
- It is to your advantage to answer every question. Try not to skip and go back later. If in doubt, answer it but mark your paper so that you will remember to go back to it later if you have time.
- If you are certain one of the answers is true, don't choose "None of the above."
- If you are certain one of the answers is false, don't choose "All of the above."
- If you see that at least two are correct answers, then "All of the above" is probably the correct answer.
- A positive choice is more likely to be the right answer as opposed to a negative one.
- Usually correct answers have more information than others.
- Read the question carefully paying close attention to whether you are supposed to answer all the questions or only a specified amount.
- Ask for clarification if you do not understand the prompt.
- Make an outline to organize thoughts and maintain focus before you begin writing.
- Keep the introduction and conclusion short. The body of the essay should contain the majority of the information.
- Cover only one main idea per paragraph. Keep it detailed - the more facts the better the grade.
- Avoid your personal opinion unless you are asked for it.
- If uncertain about an exact date or number, use "approximately" or "in the late 1800s."
- Reread and proof. If you catch an error, try not to erase and lose time. It is quicker to draw a line through it. You can always fix it if you have time.
- Watch for qualifiers such as "usually, sometimes, and generally" which typically mean that the answer depends of the circumstances. They usually lead to true answers.
- Qualifiers such as "never, always and every" indicate that the answer must be true ALL the time. They usually lead to false answers.
- If any part of the question is false, then the ENTIRE statement is false even if part of the statement is true.
3. Combat Test-Anxiety
- Excessive worrying can impact performance by causing students to freeze on the test and memory to lapse.
- Take advantage of all the tips previously listed, but consider others as well.
- It is important to be well prepared by continually reviewing material on a daily basis, by seeking assistance from the teacher throughout the unit and having the teacher test your for thorough understanding prior to the test.
- Minimize stressors by showing up early to class, but avoid talking to others about the test. Stay distracted by other more positive and energizing conversations.
- If you experience stomach issues prior to testing, try eating some crackers. Consider chewing gum, eating a peppermint, or drinking water during the test.
- During the test, it is important to scan the test and do easy questions first to boost your confidence.
- Stay focused on the question you are on without wandering to one you may have skipped or one that you know is coming up next that may be causing you additional concern.
- If you feel your anxiety increasing, take a few slow, deep breaths. Recognize it is happening and find a means to control it before it overcomes you.
4. Tips for Parents
- Make sure your child does all their homework and reading assignments.
- If your child is anxious, try to stay clam around them. Anxiety can help make students more successful; however, too much can stress them out and adversely affect their grade.
- Provide a well-lit, quiet place in which to study.
- Add test days to the family calendar.
- Make sure your child gets enough sleep and eats a healthy breakfast/lunch prior to the test.
- If your child is struggling on their tests, talk with her to determine why and help her evaluate her study habits. Be willing to meet with the teacher to find ways to help your child.
- After the test, review it with your child (or set a time when the teacher can review it with her). It is essential we take the time to learn from our mistakes and prevent them from happening again.
- IMPORTANT: Always encourage them to do better and praise/reward them for a job well done. Recognize even the smallest progress.