Strategies for Every Test

24 Oct

Tests always freak me out. When I started college I couldn’t comprehend that the biggest portion of my grades came from just exams. I also couldn’t imagine how many different styles of exams could be given: short answer, multiple choice, true/false, essay. I remember in high school, there would be different, smaller portions within one exam, but a 30 question test all true/false freaked me out. Here are some strategies that helped me get through any type of test that was thrown at me.


Test Type 1: Multiple Choice

Multiple choice exams are the ones I take most frequently. When taking this type of exam, the strategy I use most is reading through questions very carefully. Nothing is worse than getting a question you knew wrong because it was worded in a strange way. These tests are notorious for trick questions meant to trip you up, but that is only because professors want you to really know the material. After carefully reading through the question, I read the choices given and cross off any I know are wrong. First instincts are usually right and by crossing off incorrect options, I can narrow down my final decision. Lastly, I don’t spend too much time on one question; if I don’t know the answer, I put a star by the question and move on. This lets me finish the questions that I do know and not run out of time. Then I go back and work on the questions I starred.


Test Type 2: Short Answer/ Essay

Short answer can be your best friend or worst enemy. They give students enough wiggle room to answer a question to their best ability and get partial credit, instead of getting it wrong because you chose the wrong letter. But they can also be a bit harder in terms of content. Test that are comprised of short answer questions can be daunting because you truly have to know what you are talking about. Of course how you answer and what you answer may depend on the person who grades the exam. When I have short answer questions, I make sure to go though each and bullet what I know and move on to the next problem. This helps me remember what I want to put in my answer and manage my time. Short answers can be time consuming, so it’s crucial not to spend too much time on one question, but also make sure to answer the question well. This also goes along with essay exams. They let you show was you know and what you know isn’t reduced to a trick question or one letter. My strategy is to check the prompt as I’m writing to make sure I’m fully answering the question.


Test Type 3: True/False

While these types of tests are rare, they do happen. They are a lot harder because it is a 50/50 decision; you either get it right or wrong. I know that this seems stressful but usually the professor will let you know ahead of time that this is they test style. If your exam happens to be true/false, make sure to brush up on your basic definitions, because they tend to be more straight forward. Also ask the professor yourself on how they would prepare for this exam. Advice is always better coming from the person who writes the exams.


While there are a lot of different ways to strategize for a particular test,  the best ways I prepare for a test in general are:

1) Sleep well. No one can take a good test running on fumes.

2) Eat a good meal. Brain food and a full stomach will make you more comfortable and focused.

3) Start studying early. Reviewing all the material the night before won’t make for a good test.

4) Don’t stress. Believe that you will have a great exam.



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