General Strategies For All Types of Tests Tools and Supplies

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General Strategies For All Types of Tests
Tools and Supplies—Be prepared for the exam with all the materials you will need: Pencils, pens, erasers, calculator, extra batteries, paper, etc.

Read Instructions—Scan the entire test for directions and instructions. Read them carefully. If something is unclear, ask the instructor to clarify it for you.

Budget your Time.— Stay within your allotted time schedule. How much time do you have? How many questions? Are some weighted heavier in points than others? Which require more time?

Questions You Know— Answer all questions that you know first and skip those you don’t. Come back to those later.

Questions You Don’t Know— Often, the test will contain clues in other sections or questions to help you go back and answer previously skipped questions. Try not to leave a question blank. Unless penalized for guessing, guess!
Multiple Choice Tests
Read carefully—Read the stem of each question first and try to answer it. Then read every option before selecting the ones that best completes the stem.

Look for Clues

  1. Sometimes answers are given outright in other questions

  2. Grammar should be correct between the stem and selected answer.

  3. Select the stem-option combination that looks familiar.

  4. Correct options will frequently contain flexible qualifiers, such as in “in most cases,” “as reported in,” generally,” “frequently,” “except when,” etc.

  5. Whenever two or more options are identical, both must be incorrect.

Analyze the Question— You must judge the accuracy of a fact or the correctness of a relationship between two or more facts, events, or ideas. Don’t read into it, respond to the question as written. If any part of the question is false, the whole question is false.
Prepare for Topics in Advance— If possible, find out from the instructor what topics the matching exercise will cover.

Read Directions Carefully— Will all answers be used? Will they be reused?

Read the Question List— As you read the questions, pencil in a response you think is correct.

Read the Answer List— Eliminate items on the answer list that are out of place.

Do the Matches You Know First

The Matches You Don’t Know— Review those you don’t know and select the answer you believe to be best.

This handout provided as a service of Academic Assistance. Library 124 Ext 7518.

Short Answers
Write No More Than Necessary

Fill In the Blanks—When completing a given statement, always make sure the response is grammatically correct.

Use the Space Provided— This is a clue about how much you need to write.
Tips for Essay Tests

  1. Find out as soon as possible what criteria the instructor will use to grade essay answers.

  2. Read directions carefully.

  3. Read through all of the questions completely before you begin your test. If you have any questions or need clarification, make sure to ask the professor.

  4. Determine how much time you will spend on each questions. Questions with a higher point value should be given more time.

  5. Be sure to look for key “directional” words such as “name,” “define,” “compare,” and “discuss.”

  6. If you are required to select you questions from a larger list, decide which questions you want to answer before you begin.

  7. Take a few minutes to write a brief outline for each question before you begin to help you structure your writing. You can also write down a few key words or phrases to stimulate ideas.

  8. If your essay is based on text that is given with the test (i.e. read the article and write an essay about it), remember to underline or make notations by the important ideas in the material and incorporate them in essay.

  9. Use quotes or facts to support your essay.

  10. Use proper grammar and vocabulary that is appropriate for the subject.

  11. If you run out of time and can not finish all of the questions, write a brief outline for the ones you have not finished. You might be able to get some credit, or at least demonstrate that you know the material.

  12. When you are finished, be sure to proofread your essays and fix any errors.

Essay Test Terms
COMPARE: Examine qualities or characteristics in order to discover resemblances.

CONTRAST: Dissimilarities and differences should be stressed.

CRITICIZE: Express your judgment with respect to the correctness or merit of the factors under consideration.

DEFINE: Supply concise, clear authoritative meanings.

DESCRIBE: Recount, characterize, sketch, or relate in a narrative form.

DIAGRAM: Present a drawing, chart, plan, or relate in narrative form.

DISCUSS: Examine, analyze carefully, and present considerations pro and con regarding the topics involved.

ENUMERATE OR LIST: Recount one by one in concise form, the points required, either in a list or outline form.

EVALUATE: Present a careful appraisal of the problem, stressing both advantages and limitations.

EXPLAIN: Clarify and interpret the material you present.

ILLUSTRATE: Explain or clarify your answer to the problem by presenting a figure, picture, diagram, or concrete example.

INTERPRET: Translate, exemplify, solve or comment upon the subject and usually give your judgment reaction to the problem or topic.

JUSTIFY: Prove or show grounds for decisions in a convincing form.

OUTLINE: An organized description. Give the main points and essential supplementary materials and present the information in a systematic way.

PROVE: Establish something with certainty by evaluation and citing experimental evidence or by logical reasoning.

RELATE: Show the relationship or analyze and comment briefly in organized sequence upon major points of the problem.

REVIEW: Provide a critical examination. Analyze and comment briefly in an organized sequence upon the major points of the topic.

SUMMARIZE: Give in condensed form, the main points or facts. All details, illustrations, and examples usually may be omitted.

STATE: Express the high points in brief, clear narrative form. Details, illustrations, and examples usually may be omitted.

TRACE: Give a description of progress, historical sequence, or development from the point of origin.

(Adapted from 10/14/99)

Still a little nervous about that next test? Contact a peer tutor at Academic Assistance for some help and guidance!

Academic Assistance

Library 124, x7518

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