Welcome to the Test Strategies Module.

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1 T est Strategies with permission from H&H Publishing Company, Inc. Welcome to the Test Strategies Module. Look at your Test Strategies score on the LASSI. If you scored between: You probably don t need to work on improving your test preparation or test-taking strategies You should consider improving your strategies You need to improve your test strategies, or you may have serious problems succeeding in college. Using the information presented in this module, you will be able to improve your attitudes and increase your likelihood for academic success Research Research Tells Us That Students Who Successfully Prepare For And Take Tests Think about and choose methods that will help them achieve their goals. Know and use a variety of test-preparation strategies. Know that preparing to take a test begins far earlier than the night before an exam. Research Tells Us About Students Who Do Not Successfully Prepare For And Take Tests Do not use test strategies successfully often do not think about and choose methods that will help them achieve their goals. May not know how to create a plan of attack for taking a test. Do not use test strategies successfully may delay preparing for a test and run out of time to study. 1

2 Test Strategies Are Necessary Before, During, And After Taking Tests Using test strategies effectively occurs before, during, and after taking tests. Test preparation after an exam is important because you want to review your work and determine if you should change the way you study for a similar test in the future. Test preparation also includes knowing about methods for studying and learning the material in a way that will facilitate remembering the material and using it at a later time. How you study for a test is determined by many factors. These include: The content How you will be tested or evaluated The time you have available to study Your instructor s expectations and grading criteria Your knowledge about different learning and study strategies and methods For both test preparation and taking tests it is critical to know: What the test will cover (e.g., chapters, topics) How many questions will be on the test The type or types of questions that will be on the test How long you will have to complete the test In college it is important that you not only learn the material but that you also demonstrate your knowledge through tests and other types of evaluations, such discussion boards, papers, and projects. The three major factors for helping you identify the most important information are: Important Points To Remember About Test Strategies Here are a few important points to remember about test strategies: There are three steps necessary for successful test-taking: Step 1: Preparing before the test Step 2: What you do during the test Step 3: What you do after the test is over 2

3 S T R A T E G I E S T O I M P R O V E TEST PREPARATION Strategy #1: Remember that you forget approximately 90% of new material after a period of just 24 hours. Study and review your notes regularly. Overlearn the material to increase your comprehension and recall. Keep it fresh in your mind so that you can remember it. Strategy #2: Find out the type of exam you will be given. Is it objective, like matching or multiple-choice, or will it be subjective, like essays or sample problems? Strategy #3: Predict test questions before going into the exam. Write and answer questions that will assess your knowledge of the general concepts as well as the more specific, detailed information. Study with another class member. Test each other. Strategy #4: Define important terms from your reading. Strategy #5: Review course materials with others who have also prepared for the test. Study partners who are not keeping up with the work will not help you. Strategy #6: Get enough sleep before an exam. Eat a good breakfast. Being tired and hungry never helped anyone succeed. 3

4 sources Sources For Predicting Test Questions Course Syllabus: You might use some of the course objectives from the course syllabus to write study questions and answers. If the instructor has not listed specific objectives, then look at the topic outline and see if you can turn items into questions. Information from headings of textbook chapters: You could identify topics found in textbook chapter headings that you think may be test questions. Use these to write study questions and answers. Important terminology or vocabulary: While looking through your notes and your textbook, you can identify terms defined in your textbook or in the glossary. Use these to write study questions and answers. Questions about confusing information: Another good idea is locating topics that were confusing for you. Use these for writing study questions and answers. This can also help you highlight and clarify information you may need to study further. Information that surprises you: Identifying facts that are different from what you expected can lead to valuable study questions and answers. PLANNING 4 Creating A Test-Preparation Plan A test plan is simply an outline of how you are going to use your time and resources to prepare for a test. Your test-preparation plan addresses the following types of questions: When will you study? Where will you study? What will be your goals for each study session? How will you judge if you reached your goals for each study session? What will you do if you need extra time?

5 Test-Preparation Strategies For Essay Tests One area of particular concern expressed by many students is how to prepare for essay exams. Here are some specific test-preparation strategies for essay exams: Learn definitions. Understand key terms. Generate and answer possible essay questions. Prepare outlines of material covered on the exam. Practice condensing essays (rewrite practice essays). Again, in order to successfully use each of these strategies, you must create a plan for preparing yourself. It will be impossible to use all of these strategies if you wait until the last minute to study for your test. Preparation Strategies When You Get To The Test Here are a few suggestions for the minutes directly preceding the test: Your frame of mind is important try to have a positive mindset coming into the exam. Even questions that may at first seem confusing can often be reasoned through. Give yourself the advantage of a good start. Be certain of the time, place, and materials required for the exam, and arrive with enough time to arrange your working conditions and build a calm, alert attitude. Pace yourself. Know how much time you have so that you finish the test. 5

6 A N S W E R S T O c O M M O N Q U E S T I O N S A B O U T TEST TAKING How do I read a question carefully so that I understand what the question is really asking? As you read the question, underline key terms, such as topics and directions. Break the question into smaller parts. Sometimes long questions are difficult. Read slowly, sentence by sentence, and make sure you understand each part rather than focusing on the question as a whole. How do I decide between two very close answers? Responses that are more precise or technical are more likely to be correct. However, responses using technical terms not mentioned in the material studied are probably incorrect. If unsure, select the response that seems to be more inclusive. If you are guessing between two responses, avoid options containing words such as none, all, always, and never. Choices using some or often are more likely to be correct. Often, I feel rushed while taking essay exams. How do I avoid this? Sometimes you may feel rushed during a test because you are! Many exams you take are meant to be speed tests, to see how well you can work within a time limit. Try to focus on the test and not get nervous about the time you have left. This is good advice for any test. You are in control of how you feel and react to the test. Don t sabotage yourself by focusing on the time or your fears. Try to keep your attention focused on answering the test questions. Give yourself a time limit for each question so that you don t devote too much time to any one part of the test. If you finish early, go back to questions you would like to strengthen. If you are running out of time, finish your essay with an outline. You might at least earn some points with an outline whereas you will get no points for a blank answer! 6

7 How do I overcome writer s block when I get to the test? Temporary lapses in concentration during a test are common. Just because you can t remember something at first, however, does not mean it s totally lost to you. You might want to try glancing over other parts of the test. As you read other questions, you might see terms or ideas that will refresh your memory. If you are really stuck, try to think of a title for your essay. If you can think of a title, you can give yourself a perspective or a focus from which to answer the question GENERAL STRATEGIES Here are some general strategies to try using during tests: Monitor your use of time. Try not to get stuck and spend too much time on any one question. Go to other questions you can answer easily and come back to the ones that are more difficult for you. Read directions and questions carefully before answering. It is a shame to waste points answering a question you misinterpreted. Save difficult or time-consuming questions for last (mark the items so that you If you have extra time at the end of the test, go back and check your work, especially if it involves computations. Strategies To Use During Objective Tests: Strategy #1: Answer the questions that you know first. Your confidence will build, and you might find clues within the test that will help you answer the questions you don t know. Strategy #2: Give full concentration to each question in turn. Don t worry about one question while trying to answer another one. Strategy #3: Read the question stem and try to answer without looking at the choices offered. After you have answered each question, look for your answer among the choices listed. If the answer is not there, reread the question to make sure you understand what it is asking Strategy #4: Accept the questions at face value. Don t read anything into a question. Stick to what the question asks and do not try to over analyze what is required to answer it. 7

8 Strategies To Use After The Test Strategies that you use after you have taken a test are some of the most important strategies for improving your performance on future tests. Post-test-taking strategies are designed to help you with your future test-taking skills by: helping you evaluate what you understand and where there may be holes or problems in your understanding of the course material, providing specific feedback for how you are doing in a course, showing you how to adjust your test taking to be more strategic. By using these strategies, you will be able to focus on where you made mistakes and where you were successful. By going through this process, you will be less likely to make the same mistakes and more likely to repeat the successes. General Post-Test-Taking Strategies Control your emotional reaction. Try to stay calm and focus on the test feedback so that you can benefit from it. Getting anxious, angry, or frustrated will not help. Read the instructor s explanations carefully. Written test feedback often helps you understand the answers to questions you may not have answered adequately and learn more about your instructor s testing methods and expectations. If you still have a problem, ask him/her to explain what you missed. This will help you prepare better for the next exam. Tips From Other Students For Improving Your Test Strategies Ask each of your instructors for their ideas on how to prepare for their tests and for strategies for taking their tests. Talk with your classmates to determine the test-preparation and test-taking strategies they use and how well those strategies work for them. Congratulations! You have completed this module on Test Strategies. You now have information needed to improve your preparation for taking tests. 8

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