Mastering Take-Home Tests

Mastering Take-Home Tests

If you were in college and given the option of taking an exam in class or at home, which would you select?  Most students would select the take-home test without hesitating.  There’s something appealing about taking a test at your own place according to your own schedule.

Honestly, though, take-home tests are often harder than in-class tests.  Because the professor knows you have the advantage of consulting reference materials and spending as much time on the test as you want, he often compensates by making the exam more difficult.  However, this doesn’t mean it has to be impossible. Here are a few suggestions to help you master the take-home exam and how to prepare for a test.

1) First, be sure you’re ready for the test.  Many people, when they know it’s going to be a take-home exam, don’t study as hard as they would for an in-class exam.  But if you want to do well on the exam, you still need to be studying up until the day that you receive the exam.  See our Post on The Ultimate Test Preparation Guide for more information on preparing for a test.

2) On the other hand, don’t over-prepare for the test. After you’ve studied and studied, there comes a point where more studying will not do much good for you.  Instead, this over-preparing will just take time that you could spend on other classes.  At some point, you have to tell yourself “I’ve learned this material as well as possible. I’m now just going to take the test.”

3) Make sure you’re comfortable when you take the test. This means sit in a chair where you can relax and create an environment that you feel lends itself to study.  For some people, that might mean having soft music playing.  Others might work better with complete silence.  The important point is that you are comfortable in the environment.  While a Take Home test is different to a regular exam, you might want to review these points on What to Do in the Exam Room Part 1 & Part 2.

4) But don’t get too comfortable. A chair that’s too cozy might tend to put you to sleep.  Same thing with a dim room.  It’s nice and relaxing, but a brightly lit room is better for taking a test.

5) Be smart about food and drink. It’s cool to eat and drink as you’re taking your exam, but use common sense.  For starters, avoid things that will get your fingers sticky since it might mess up your test paper, or at minimum, you’ll waste valuable time constantly cleaning your hands.  Feel free to drink coffee or other caffeinated beverage, but it might not be smart to do this if the goal is to keep yourself up late taking the test.  Coffee or not, you’ll be at your best if you take the test during your normal awake hours.  More on Caffeine here.

A take home exam is a great opportunity to take a test on your own home turf according to your own terms.  However, as with any test, you must use proper study and test-taking strategies to make sure you get the best possible grade.

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Modified: September 25th, 2017
Published: February 8th, 2010

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