Test Taking Tips

Thinking Strategies

  • Answer the question in your head first: Read the question and try to frame an answer in your mind before looking at the answer options. This will help you avoid being confused by “distracter” options.
  • Eliminate incorrect answers first:
  • Return to questions that are difficult: Mark those questions that are difficult and return to them later if time permits. Spending time mulling over multiple-choice questions may not pay off in the points the instructor allows per questions. Moreover, later questions in the test may trigger a line of thought that helps you with answers when you come back.
  • Try out each option independently with the questions: If you’re having trouble sorting out the options, try reading the question and just the first option together. Then try the questions and the second option together. And so on. By taking each one at a time, you may be able to make a better determination.
  • Be careful about “All of the above” or “non of the above”: ‘All of the above” or “none of the above” is often the correct choice. But examine the alternatives carefully. Make sure that all the other options apply before checking “all of the above”. Make sure no one other option is correct before marking “non of the above”.
  • Look for opposite choices: If two choices are opposite in meaning one is probably correct. Try to eliminate other choices, then concentrate on which of the opposite is correct.
  • Realize that there is not always a perfect answer: You must choose the best answer.
  • Cross out the incorrect answers: Incorrect answers are called distracters. Crossing them out will focus your attention on reasonable options.
  • Read all possible responses.

Guessing Strategies

  • Guess, if there is no penalty: Unless the instructor has indicated he or she will take off points for incorrect answers, you might as well guess if you don’t know the answer.
  • Choose between similar sounding options: If two options have similar words, or similar sounding words, choose one of them.
  • If options are numbers, pick in the middle: If the alternative options consist of numbers, high and low numbers tend to be distracters. Thus, you might try guessing at one of the middle numbers.
  • Consider that the first option is often not the correct: Many instructors think you should have to read through at least one incorrect answer before you come to the correct. Thus, when you’re going to guess, consider that there is a high probability that the first option will be incorrect.
  • Pick a familiar term over an unfamiliar one: An answer that contains an unfamiliar term is apt to be a distracter, although many students tend to assume otherwise. If you have to guess, try the familiar one.

Handling Matching Questions

  • Ask if items can be used more than once.
  • Read all the choices before answering, then do the easy matching first.

Handling Fill-in-the-Blank Questions

  • Read the question to determine what kind of answer is needed.
  • Make sure the answer fits grammatically and logically.

Hints for Taking True/False Tests

  1. In a complex statement, every part of the sentence must be true for the statement to be true.
  2. True statements are usually longer the false ones.
  3. Watch out for absolute qualifiers, as these mean that the statement must be true 100% of the time. These are all or nothings statements.
    • Example absolute qualifiers: always, definitely, all the time.
    • Example general qualifiers: sometimes, often, occasionally.
  4. Two negatives make a positive. Try taking out the negatives to see if the statement would be true.

Test-Taking Tactics-Essay Tests

  • Think before you begin writing
  • Make an outline or diagram on your test
  • Use facts and logic, not feelings and opinions
  • Underline your key statements to show you are thinking logically
  • Don’t write down what you weren’t asked
  • Be to the point and make it east to read and understand

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