What should I do when I get my test paper?
If you are just starting your academic career, you will be taking a LOT of exams of all different types. So learning about test preparation and how to write a test is a very valuable skills.
Keep these 17 tips in mind, and you are bound to ace it.
Also see our post on What you Instructor wants to see
1. Make notes
Right after you put your name on the test write down any formulas, charts or quick notes while they are fresh on your mind. You can refer to them when it’s time to answer particular questions. We have a number of posts on taking notes and different methods.
Split Page Method
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2. Read the Instructions Carefully
Make sure you read over the questions and know exactly what it is asking before you answer them. Tests questions can vary slightly in their wording and totally change the meaning. More on reading the instructions
3. Scan the Test
Before you start answering any questions, make sure you look over the entire test. It will help you organize yourself in time so that you give yourself enough time to complete longer questions. You want to set a plan of attack that will allow you to achieve the highest score.
4. Start with the easy questions
Start answering the easiest questions first. This will not only free up your time but it will also build up your confidence and get a good momentum going.
5. Answer every question
Make sure you put an answer down for every question. Once you’ve gone through the test answering the easy questions, start again from the beginning and go through the whole test answering every question. This will ensure that you won’t miss a question by mistake. If the answer to a question doesn’t come to you right away answer the best you can, using your first ‘gut feeling’ answer- it’s usually the most accurate. And if all else fails- guess! You never know, you just might come up with the right answer.
Try not to skip questions; there might not be time to come back. But if you must skip a question, make a mark on the page so that it will help you remember to come back and finish. It is possible that the answer to the question will come to you as you work on the rest of the test. Hopefully there will be time to fill it in before time is up.
6. Carefully read each question
Make sure you carefully read each question before attempting to answer it. You don’t want to form the wrong opinion on the answer because you misinterpreted the question. Don’t draw any conclusions until you’ve read over the entire question.
There are certain ‘trick phrases’ that can throw people off in a test such as, ‘all of the above except” and ‘which of these are not’. Carefully read over phrases that use the words, ‘never’ or ‘always’. They are often false answers; Questions that use words like, ‘always’, ‘sometimes’ and ‘rarely’ are often true answers. But there are always exceptions to those rules, so read over each question carefully.
If you come across a question you just don’t understand then ask the teacher if they can clarify it for you. There’s even a chance the teacher might inadvertently give you the answer while explaining it. But make sure you only ask the teacher. You don’t want any accusations made that you were attempting to cheat.
7. Write your answers carefully
Make sure you take great care in writing clear answers on your test. Answering clearly will give you the best chance of attaining full credit for your answers.
8. Use your time wisely
The most crucial factor in taking a test is time. You need to always be aware of the clock when taking a test. Organize your time wisely. If a test you are about to take has a value of 100 points, in which two questions are each worth 25 points and a third question is worth 50 points you would divide your time so that ¼ of the test time is spent on the 25 point questions, and half of the test time is devoted to the 50 point question. This gives you a better chance at getting a high score. More on Time Management