Chapter 8 Developing Test-Taking Skills



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Chapter 8

  • Developing
  • Test-Taking Skills
  • It’s not only about a good grade,
  • it’s still about learning;
  • and learning will help you get the good grade.

Tests don’t measure how smart you are

  • . . . they’re simply tools that evaluate the progress you’ve made in your studies.
  • Reflect on this.
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Good Preparation & Learning

  • . . . are the most important factors in
  • test-taking success
  • and
  • in overcoming test anxiety.
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Purpose of This Chapter

  • To help you learn tips and strategies for test preparation and test-taking so you can take tests with confidence in college and for future job entrance, certification, or license exams.
  • The keys are understanding the test mechanics & being soundly prepared.
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Learning Outcomes

  • Start early with test preparation & make it an ongoing effort.
  • Use study groups to enhance your learning.
  • Use strategies from previous chapters to prepare for tests.
  • Understand, analyze, & respond to true/false, multiple choice, essay, & other test formats.
  • Use preparation, self-talk, visualization, & relaxation to overcome test anxiety.
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Class Think

  • Recall as many tips & strategies from the previous chapters that would help you:
    • Prepare for tests
    • Overcome test anxiety
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Tips & Strategies for Test Preparation (from previous chapters)

  • Use PRQRT or SQ3R to:
    • Help you learn while you read.
    • Create self-tests for later study.
  • Use column or outline notetaking formats to create  study-ready notes.
  • Listen for instructor hints for test items.
  • Use self-talk to direct your preparation efforts.
  • Manage & schedule your study time.
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Tips & Strategies for Overcoming Test Anxiety (from previous chapters)

  • Use positive self-talk:
    • To direct you preparation.
    • To encourage yourself  “I can. . . .”
  • Use self-discipline to:
    • Start & sustain your learning.
    • Manage your study time.
  • Use visualization to ____________.
  • Avoid procrastination.
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Math & Science Test Preparation Tips

  • Math is a building process; in order to understand the next steps you need to comprehend present & previous steps.
  • Begin preparing early.
  • Do assigned lab & homework problems. (Mathematicians usually say they practiced more problems than were assigned.)
  • Simulate tests conditions—practice timed problems.
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Class Share

  • What are some of your:
  • Good study habits?
  • Effective study tools?
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Class Share

  • What are some of your:
  • Bad habits that keep you from studying?
  • How would you advise your classmates to avoid them?
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Prepare for Tests on the First Day You Start Each Chapter Reading Assignment

  • If you’ve been regularly testing yourself with your study-ready materials from your text, class notes, & flash cards, you’ve already begun the process of storing what you need to know in your long-term memory.
  • Keep up the self-testing so the material will be increasingly solidified in your brain by exam day.
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Use Self-Talk to Prepare for Tests Early

  • What self-talk will you use to begin test preparation early & sustain your learning efforts?
  • Quick Activity write down your new self-talk.
  • Examples:
  • “I will begin test preparation early by ________ .”
  • “I will sustain my preparation by ____________
  • .”
  •  Use your power of self-talk to direct your test preparation.
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Rewards for Starting Early & Sustaining Your Test Preparation

  • Mental clarity & less anxiety
  • You retain information—it’s learned!
  • Better control
  • Greater test confidence
  • Better grades & jobs
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Ever Procrastinate?

  • What allows you to procrastinate?
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Don’t Let Procrastination Become a Habit

  • It is bad for your health.
  • It can cause stress/anxiety.
  • It doesn’t sustain learning.
  • It’s not smart.
  • It makes you go into a crisis mode.
  •    cramming!
  •  See next slides to help you in an emergency exam prep!
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Emergency Test Prep (Adapted from Miller, George A., The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information,1956, Harvard)

  • A structured approach to cramming:
  • Preview material to be covered.
  • Be selective & skim chapters for main points.
  • Concentrate on the main points.
  •  Warning: This learning will be short-lived.
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Emergency Test Prep (Begin with 5 sheets of paper)

  • Identify 5 key concepts or topics that will be covered on the test.
  • List 1 concept at the top of each page using key words.
  • In your own words, write a brief explanation, definition, answer, etc., for each of the key concepts.
  • Compare your response with text & class notes.
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Emergency Test Prep (continued)

  • Edit or rewrite your understanding of each topic considering the text & class notes.
  • Sequence & number each page of your topics 1–5 in order of importance; 1 = most important
  • Follow same process for 2 additional concepts if you have time.
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Emergency Test Prep (continued)

  • Place them in a 1–7 page sequence.
  • Follow the above process for 1–2 more concepts for a total of 9.  Follow your comfort level—add topics only as necessary.
  • Try not to exceed 9 concepts  focus on the most important.
  • Review the day of test; try to relax just before.
  •  Warning Again: This learning will be short-lived.
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Class Think How can you predict test questions?

  • Tip: Ask your instructors (early) about what type of questions will generally be on their tests so you will be better able to focus your studies by using the test-taking strategies recommended for specific test styles.
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About Study Groups

  • Have you ever been in a study group?
  • What were the pros?
  • . . .the cons?
  • What would have made your study group work better for you?
  •  The next slides will give you the positives & guidelines for study groups.
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Study Groups = Serious Learning

  • Two heads are better than one  when you explain something you’ve learned to others, you understand it better.
  • Research shows  students who study in groups do better than students who study alone.
  • The commitment students make to a group helps them stay on task.
  • Studying with a good group is more enjoyable than alone.
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Study Groups: Making it Work!

  • Search/locate guidelines on “How to Set Up a Study Group.”
  • Choose dependable students.
  • Attendance is crucial for effectiveness of the group.
  • Assess the effectiveness of the group.
    • What’s working?
    • What should we improve?
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Guidelines to Help You Make the Most of Your Study Group

  • Establish a purpose & a set of common goals.
  • Pick a time & place that works for everyone.
  • Set up a schedule & stick to it.
  • Socialize after the session.
  • Optimal group size is between 3–6 students.
  • Designate a chairperson who will be responsible for reserving the space & leading the agenda for each session. (You may want to rotate this position.)
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Guidelines to Help You Make the Most of Your Study Group continued

  • Divide portions of the study material among group members. 
  • Each member will be responsible for leading a discussion on assigned portion.
  • Always come prepared:
    • Read the material.
    • Do the homework.
    • Bring all notes & books related to the topic of the session.
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What’s your favorite test format?

  • . . . and why?
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Different Test Formats Means Different Success Tips

  • The key to preparing & performing well on different test formats is:
  • Understanding the test mechanics.
  • Rehearsing what you’ve learned in a manner that simulates the test format.
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True–False Test Mechanics & Strategies (T–F—is the basis for Multiple Choice Test Strategies)

  • Every part of a true sentence must be “true.”
  • If the question contains negatives, such as “no, not, cannot,”
    • drop the negative & read what remains.
    • decide whether that sentence is true or false.
    • if it is true, its opposite, or negative, is usually false.
  • Qualifiers such as “usually” or “seldom,” make more modest claims, are more likely to reflect reality, & usually indicate “true” answers.
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True-False Test Mechanics & Strategies continued

  • Absolute words restrict possibilities.
    • “No, never, none, always, every, entirely, only” imply the statement must be true 100% of the time and often indicate “false” answers.
  • Use a true-false analysis for each word/item in a series—if one is false, the statement is “false.”
  • Example below: chicken is false, so the entire sentence is false.
  • T F Sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils, wheat germ, chicken, corn, nuts, seeds, olives, asparagus, and spinach.
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True-False Test Mechanics & Strategies continued

  • Often true-false tests contain more true than false answers. 
    • You have ˃ 50% chance of being right with “true.” 
    • However, your instructor may be the opposite.  (Review past tests for patterns.)
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What poses the greatest difficulty for you when preparing for and/or taking multiple choice tests?

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  • What poses the greatest difficulty for you when preparing for and/or taking multiple choice tests?

What to Know About Multiple Choice Questions

  • Multiple choice questions usually include a phrase or stem followed by 3–5 options.
  • The directions can vary so pay attention:
    • whether each question has 1 or more correct options.
    • if you are penalized for guessing.
    • how much time is allowed (this directs your strategy).
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Multiple Choice Mechanics & Analysis (When you need a backup to knowing.)

  • Preview the test & mark, as appropriate, those you think you know.
  • Cover the options, read the stem, & try to answer.
    • Select the option that most closely matches your answer.
  • Treat each option as a true-false question—choose the most true.
    • Use the true-false analysis on each option.
  • Question options that grammatically don’t fit with the stem.
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Multiple Choice Mechanics & Analysis continued

  • Question options that are totally unfamiliar to you.
  • Use hints from questions you know.
  • Question options that contain negative or absolute words.
    • Try substituting a qualified term for the absolute one, like frequently for always or seldom for never, and see if you can eliminate it.
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Multiple Choice Mechanics & Analysis continued

  • When in doubt, favor options that contain qualifiers such as usually or generally—the response is longer & more inclusive.
  • If you know 2–3 options seem correct, “all of the above” is a strong possibility.
  • Be aware of “look alike options.”
    • Probably one is correct; choose the best but eliminate choices that mean basically the same thing & cancel each other out.
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Multiple Choice Mechanics & Analysis continued

  • Double negatives = positive.
  • If 2 options are opposite, chances are one is correct.
  • If two alternatives seem correct, compare them for differences, then refer to the stem to find your best answer.
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What is your greatest challenge when writing essay question responses?

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  • What is your greatest challenge when writing essay question responses?

Essay Exam Mechanics & Strategies

  • Preview the test & determine how much time you have for each question.
    • Allow time to review the entire test before submitting.
  • While fresh in your mind, jot down notes, outlines, steps, & formulas as you preview.
  • Pay close attention to the directives (list, explain, compare, contrast, critique).
  • Make a brief outline for each response.
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Essay Exam Writing & Answering Tips

  • Begin with a strong first sentence stating the main idea of your essay.
  • Continue first paragraph by noting all key points.
  • Begin each paragraph with a key point from the introduction.
  • Develop each point in a complete paragraph..
  • Use transitions or enumerate to connect points.
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Essay Exam Writing & Answering Tips continued

  • Write concisely; make each word count. Use bulleted lists if/where appropriate.
  • Stick to your time allotment & organization.
  • Avoid very absolute statements when possible.
    • A qualified statement connotes a philosophic attitude, the mark of an educated person.
  • Qualify answers when in doubt.
    • It is better to say “toward the end of the war” than to say, “in 1756” when you can’t remember whether it’s 1756 or 1776.
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Essay Exam: Writing & Answering Tips continued

  • Stick to the facts unless you are specifically asked your opinion.
  • State evidence to support each point.
  • Be concise.
  • Proof.
  •  If you know or can predict any of the essay questions, practice writing the answers before the test.
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Key Chapter Points

  • The key to performing at your peak in any test situation is preparation—the earlier you start the better.
  • Use time management to budget your study time & sustain your preparation.
  • Use sound preparation strategies to solidify what you learn.
  • Prepare yourself mentally & physically through positive self-talk, visualization, & relaxation.
  • Copyright © 2016 by Tapestry Press, Ltd.

Key Chapter Points continued

  • The key to preparing & performing well on different test formats is understanding the test mechanics & rehearsing what you’ve learned by simulating the test format.
  • Study groups enhance & solidify learning.
  • All of the above will help to overcome or eliminate test anxiety.
  • Copyright © 2016 by Tapestry Press, Ltd.

Making Mistakes

  • “Flops are part of life’s menu.
  • Everyone makes mistakes.
  • High achievers learn by their mistakes.
  • By doing that, an error becomes the raw material out of which future successes are forged.
  • Failure is not a crime.
  • Failure to learn from failure is.”
  • —Unknown
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Being self-disciplined about learning actually feels good!

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