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College Resource Center : Health Careers : Readings for Successful School Performance : Test Taking Strategies

Test Taking Strategies

Prepare for the Test

  • Know exactly what you will be tested on. Review test outlines if available.
  • Study all key topics that will appear on the examination.
  • Spread out your review over a period of weeks. Focused reviews over time are more effective than cramming.
  • Outline your text and mark topics that need a more concentrated review.
  • Try to predict questions that may be on the test and then test your skills in answering them.
  • If possible, study in the room where the test will be given.

On the Day of the Test

  • Get enough sleep the night before the test. Make sure you have gotten adequate sleep the week prior to the test.
  • Arrive early and choose a comfortable working area.
  • Dress casually and comfortably. Take extra time planning appropriate clothes.
  • Arrive prepared with necessary supplies.
  • Do a relaxation exercise prior to the test.

As You Take the Test

  • Listen, read, and follow the directions carefully.
  • Look over the test before answering any questions. Scanning the test will provide you with key information about the scope and difficulty of the test.
  • First complete the sections that are easiest for you.
  • Answer the questions in order but postpone questions that challenge you until later in the test. Answer the harder questions later.
  • On your second pass through the test, ignore the answered questions and focus only on the questions you did not answer.
  • Never leave a question unanswered; there is no penalty for guessing. (Time management is key; it is to your advantage to answer all the items on the test.)
  • Change your answers only when you are certain that you made a mistake. Your first answer is usually the correct one.

Tips for Multiple-Choice Questions

  • Remember that there is only one preferred answer even though more than one answer may appear to be correct.
  • Use the process of elimination when you do not know the answer. Eliminate the most obviously wrong answer first, then the second, and then make your best decision between the last two choices.
  • If you are still unsure about which is the correct answer, select the longer or more descriptive answer of the remaining answer set.
  • If the answer set presents a range of numbers, eliminate the highest and lowest, and then select from the middle range of numbers.
  • Slow down when you see negative words in the question. Look for words like not, except, etc. In this case, you need to identify the false statement instead of the true statement.
  • Items that contain "absolutes" like always, never, must, all, and none severely limit the meaning of the item. Statements that contain absolutes are usually incorrect.


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