Skip to Main Content
You are in the main content
Test Taking Strategies
5-Day Test Prep Plan
- Five days before the test Organize
- Organize and review class notes and text notes
- Prepare a list of topics that will be on the test
- List items in order of importance and focus your attention accordingly
- Four days before the test Review and Recall
- Review your notes thoroughly, until you can recall important information
- Concentrate on the topics that are the hardest to grasp or remember
- Develop mnemonic devices and visualizations to help you recall
- Three days before the test Rewrite
- Briefly rewrite all important information
- Review these notes repeatedly
- Work on recalling your own explanations
- Two days before the test: Question
- Make a list of questions that might be on the exam and answer them in detail
- One day before the test: Prepare
- Review your notes a few hours before the exam
- Take time to relax prior to the exam
- If you are afraid you'll forget information, write brief notes on the back of the exam as soon as you receive it and refer back to them later
Use a Weekly Planner to prepare for finals
- Block off time for practice, class, and work-outs
- Schedule specific time to work on each class
- Be reasonable when planning!
- Try to stick to it, but leave room in case you don't get it all done when you plan to.
For every test:
- Read the directions carefully
- Know if you are penalized for guessing
- Know how much time is allowed and budget your time accordingly
- Preview the test: read through the test quickly and answer the easiest questions first
- You may pick up cues for answers from the first reading (for instance, you might find the answer from a question towards the end of a test by looking at previous items)
- In most cases trust your first instinct. Change an answer only when you know that you misread the question
- No amount of guessing can replace knowing the answer
- If you do not know the answer and these strategies may help you make a more educated guess.
- They may also help you narrow down the correct answer
Strategies for true/false tests:
- The SQUID Method (http://coe.jmu.edu/learningToolbox/squid.html)
- True/false statements that give reasons tend to be false. Be on the lookout for phrases introduced by reason, because, due to, since.
- Assume statements are true unless you know they are false – if you absolutely must guess, guess true. It is easier to write a true statement than a false one. Unless they make a real effort, test writers will usually have more true than false questions.
Strategies for multiple choice tests
- CRAM: http://coe.jmu.edu/learningToolbox/cram.html
- If your answer does not match any of the choices, you’ll need to make an educated guess.
- Treat each option as a true/false question. Apply the true/false strategies.
- Eliminate options you know to be incorrect.
- Question choices that are totally unfamiliar to you.
- Once again, question choices with absolutes and options with the highest and lowest numbers – they tend to be false.
- Options that read all of the above, more complete or inclusive answers, or one of two similar-looking options tend to be true.
- Echo options: if two options are opposite each other, chances are one of them is correct
- Search for grammatical clues: All questions follow the rules of grammar. Narrow your choices by eliminating possible answers that do not produce grammatically correct sentences.