Test Taking Tips

Does preparing for finals stress you out? Well, we have put together some tips to help alleviate your pre-test jitters.

Improving your Study Skills

  • Get all your important notes and information and start creating your study material.
  • Organize your notes (outline, cluster, brain map, re-write in a cleaner/more organized manner).
  • Create a review guide that helps you remember all of the important information, make sure it fits with the type of exam you are taking.  If you are taking a multiple choice test it needs to have specific information about each topic.  If it’s an essay or short answer exam collect detailed information about the topic and then develop it into points.  True/false are usually brief and specific.
  • Break down the material and learn it in sections.  For example: take a section of the vocabulary and start learning the words by applying them.  When you are applying the words you are actually expanding your knowledge and making the information your own.

  • Find study strategies that force you to see the material; read, highlight, cluster, and graph the information together.
  • Say the material out loud, to friends, and/or instructors.  Ask questions about the information.  Understand the information.  Look at if from different points of view… movies, books, periods in time.
  • Move with the material – write down what you’re thinking as you’re reading the information. If a question comes to mind write it down.

General Tips

  • Analyze test material.
  • Read all of the questions and answer the ones that you know and then come back and focus on the questions that you are unsure of.
  • Have proof before you change your answer.
  • Watch for modifiers. They can change the meaning or accuracy of the statement.  For example: always, never, sometimes, most.
  • Definition Clues – Phrases such as: defined as, also known as, states that.
  • Relationship Clues – are the relationship between subjects. Cause and effects, compares and contrasts, and timeline.

Multiple Choice

  • Always cover up the possible responses while you read the body of the questions.
  • Anticipate the correct response before you read the choices.
  • If you do not see a response that you expected, try to eliminate responses that are probably wrong.
  • “Funny” responses are usually wrong.
  • Choose the best answer. Don’t just pick the first correct answer.
  • “All of the above” is often a correct response.


  • Only true when the entire statement is true.
  • Usually there are more true answers than false on an exam.
  • if there is no guessing penalty, then guess. You have a 50% chance of getting the right answer.
  • Read through each statement carefully, and pay attention to the qualifiers and keywords (always, sometimes, never, etc.)
  • Make a clear distinction between T’s and F’s.


  • Make an outline before writing your essay so your essay will be more organized and fluid. if you happen to run out of time, most instructors will give you partial credit for the ideas that you have outlined.
  • Make sure you answer every portion of the question. The more details and facts you provide the higher your grade will be.
  • Budget your time, don’t spend that entire time on one essay.
  • If the question is asking for facts, don’t give your personal opinion.
  • Don’t write long introductions and conclusions, the bulk of your time should be spent on answering the question(s) asked.
  • Focus on one main idea per paragraph.
  • If you have time left at the end, proofread your work and correct any errors.
  • If you aren’t sure about an exact date or number use approximations. (Approximately 500 AD)


  • Keep an ongoing formula list during the semester.
  • Memorize formulas or write them on a cheat sheet if allowed.
  • Learn any important terminology.
  • Before the test, brain dump any formulas on scratch paper or the back of your exam.
  • Draw out word problems if it helps you picture what is being asked.

Alleviating and Anxiety and Stress

When you are stressed your body responds as though you are in danger. It makes hormones that speed up your heart, make you breathe faster, and give you a burst of energy. This is called the flight-or-fight response. Some stress is normal or even useful, however it can be linked to headaches, upset stomach, back pain, trouble sleeping, weakened immune system, and more. To help alleviate your anxiety and stress try the following:

  • Exercise – Get a good workout in the night before or morning of the test.
  • Eat right – Don’t eat to heavy a meal right before an exam, but don’t have an empty stomach either.
  • Music – Listen to calming music as you walk to class.
  • Deep breathing – slow inhales and exhales.

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