May 2013 Archives

Test-Taking Strategies for Finals

It's that time again - finals week. You've been preparing for this all semester, but some tips on how to take tests more effectively may be helpful:

The cardinal rule is RECITE! This method is more effective than simply rereading the material. Say aloud from memory the main concepts, supporting facts, etc. that you think are important. If you can't do it from memory when studying, you won't be able to do it on the test.

Study as though for an essay test. Research indicates that this will give you higher scores whether you are taking an essay or objective (multiple-choice, true-false, fill-in-the-blank, etc.) test. In other words, look at both the "forest" (main ideas, general concepts) and the "trees" (important facts, illustrations, supporting evidence) so that you can intelligently discuss the main issues.

Taking exams (in general)
Don't let tests frighten you. They are just an evaluation of your work. If you do a good job of studying, you should be able to handle a reasonable test. Do the easier questions or problems first. This approach gives you a chance to loosen up. Budget your time so that you don't spend too much time on one part of the exam at the expense of another.

Objective tests (multiple-choice, true-false, etc.)
If you have a good reason to do so, change an answer. Research indicates that more answers are changed from wrong to right than from right to wrong. Check your own record when you get a test back! Answer all items, even when there is a guessing penalty. In the long run, you come out ahead. Don't read too much into a question.

Essay exams
Be sure you know what is being asked. For example, do you know the difference between "evaluating" and "describing" something? Between "comparing" and "contrasting"?

Always try to support your general statements with specific examples, facts, illustrations, and evidence. This step can mean the difference between a good and a poor paper. Convince the reader that you know the subject.

Write neatly! Research indicates that sloppy writing can mean the difference of one whole letter grade or more.

Exam panic
Most of us feel nervous before or during a test, at least until we see that we can handle the questions. Some of us get so panicky that our performance on the test suffers. For this problem the suggestions mentioned above may help. Also, if exam panic is a problem for you there are Stress Management techniques in the Self Help materials on our website.

More information
This covers only a few of the main points on the art of taking test. Other sources giving more detailed information are available in the Self-Help section of the UCCS website.

Good luck and have a great summer!

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