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  • Apr 25: Geology and Environmental Science Student Research Symposium
  • Apr 25: Logic and Reasoning Institute Colloquium
  • May 2: Final examinations
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Tips & Strategies

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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

Caution!

  • 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.