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Multiple choice test taking tips

Essay test taking tips

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HOW TO HANDLE TEST ANXIETY
  • 1. It's natural--accept it
  • 2. Some anxiety is good for motivation
  • 3. Take several slow deep breaths, concentrate on relaxing your whole body
  • 4. During the test: think about the test items not how well you're doing
  • 5. If anxiety interferes regularly, see your counselor

Test Taking Strategies


For better or worse, exams are a fact of life for students. Class or standardized tests come in all shapes and sizes. Being a good test taker is yet another factor contributing to student success.

Overall Strategies

  1. Be well prepared, but also relaxed and alert.
  2. Listen to oral instructions given at the beginning of the test.
  3. Make sure you put your name on all test papers!
  4. Preview the entire test. How many questions are there? What are the point values?
  5. Know the time limit and make a plan for how best to use your time. For example, spend more time on questions with higher point values.
  6. Skim through all the questions. Think about each one long enough to understand it.
  7. Use the triage method by putting questions into three categories, those you know the answer to, those you are uncertain of, and those that stump you. Answer the questions you know first. Then answer the ones you are unsure of. Finally, tackle the hardest ones.
  8. Use all of the time allotted. If you finish the test, go over answers you are unsure of.
  9. Don't get stuck on a question. If you don't know an answer, skip it and go back and try again later.
  10. If you are using an answer sheet, make sure you have marked only one answer for each question. Erase changes or other markings completely.
  11. If you are not certain of an answer, give the best answer you can and move on. Generally, your first impression is the correct one.
  12. Neat work scores higher than sloppy work. This has been tested and proven in formal studies. Write legibly.
  13. Review your answers before turning your paper in. Everyone makes careless mistakes. Check carefully for accidentally deleted words, extra words that confuse your meaning, spelling errors, confusing punctuation and missed points.

Suggestions for Objective Tests

Objective tests use true/false, multiple choice, and fill in the blank questions. Both instructors and standardized testing agencies tend to like objective tests because they are easier to grade.

True/False Questions

  • Look for words such as always, all, none, or never. Statements that do not allow any variation are often false.
  • Go with your first impression. Studies have shown that they are usually right.

Multiple Choice Questions

  • Read all the answers before making a selection.
  • Look at the verb in the question or stem. Which answer offered best completes this verb?
  • Look for singular and plural words in the question that require answers in the same form.
  • Eliminate answers that are obviously wrong.
  • Always put something down. You'll get more points for an educated guess than skipping the question.

Sentence Completion Questions

  • Use the length and number of blanks as a hint.
  • Make sure the grammar is consistent.
  • When in doubt, GUESS! You'll stand to get more points for a guess than a blank answer.

Suggestions for Math and Science Tests

  1. List formulas from memory that you'll need to solve problems.
  2. Clearly show all the steps you've taken to get an answer. Instructors often give partial credit if you used the correct method, but got the wrong answer.
  3. Double-check all your answers.

Suggestions for Essay Tests

Here are some suggestions for succeeding on essay tests:
  • Make sure you understand the question. Check for Key Terms [link]. Underline or circle words that tell you what to do. Number the parts of a question so you address each part.
  • Take time to brainstorm and list various ideas.
  • Outline the essay. Assemble and organize the main points. The following is a standard suggested essay format:

    • Introduction
    • Background - historical, philosophical
    • State the main points including cause and effect, methods used, dates, places and results
    • Conclusion - give the significance of each event. Write a summary.
  • Begin your essay using the same words that are in the question.
  • Be concise and to the point.
  • Don't spend too much time on a single question. Two brief answers are worth more than one lengthy one, or a blank space.
  • Don't pad - say it completely, but concisely, then leave it.
  • Don't make generalizations unless you can support them with facts.