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Successful Test Taking Tips and Strategies

Last week, we discussed some test preparation strategies that have helped many students improve test scores and prepare more effectively for exams. The idea was to help you guarantee success in the test even before taking it. Good preparation is key, but proper steps must also be taken on the test day as well to ensure success. This week, we will share with you some tips for when you are seated in the exam centre, taking the test/exam.

The following are some basic test-taking strategies that have proven effective for thousands of students. Some of them are drawn from EducationCorner ( Remember, you must adapt test-taking strategies to the specific type of test you are taking.

1. Be Prepared

There is no substitute for preparation. If you have not attended classes, studied or reviewed before test day, all the test-taking strategies in the world won't save you. Preparation is key.

  • Spend as many hours as necessary to understand the material that will be covered on the test well enough to achieve a high score.

  • Since examiners often slightly modify information on tests to determine if students have a good understanding of concepts, spend time on honing test-taking skills.

2. Do a Memory Dump

A memory dump can be a particularly useful strategy for improving performance on certain types of tests.

  • As soon as you begin the test, write down information that you will likely need to know for the test and you fear you may forget. (i.e., formulas, equations, dates, lists, etc.)

3. Read the Test Instructions Very Carefully and Watch for Details

Test instructions often contain valuable information. Always read all directions carefully to ensure you understand what is being asked. Pay attention to details.

4. Plan How You Will Use the Allotted Time

  • Take a moment to estimate how much time you will have for each section of the test and each question. Allow enough time for more difficult sections.

  • Pace yourself so you can complete the test in the allotted time frame.

  • Complete the questions you know first then come back and tackle the problems you are not sure about after. Do not lose confidence or waste time if you encounter confusing or difficult questions. Answer the questions you know first.

5. Make the Most of Multiple Choice Questions

  • Answer the question in your mind before looking at the answer options.

  • Read every answer option.

  • When unsure about the answer, eliminate what you are certain are wrong choices. In this way, you will be able to trim down the choices to the correct answer. If you are still unsure between two choices, guess.

6. Answer all the Questions

Even if you are running out of time, it is important to answer all questions (if the test is not designed to make you lose points for wrong answers). If you have no clue about the correct answer, make an educated guess. It is better to guess at an answer than to leave any questions blank. Check to make sure you have completed the entire test. It is not uncommon for questions to be listed on the opposite side of a page.

7. Plan to Finish Early and Have Time for Review

Review your work before submitting it. You may spot some errors that you made, which might make all the difference between a correct or wrong answer. If you are required to complete an essay, review it for spelling and grammatical errors.

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