Tips for Effective Test Taking Strategies

Test Taking StrategiesHow your tween takes a test or school exam can make a difference in how well they do.  The tips they use to take a multiple-choice test will be different from those used to take a fill in the blank or short answer question.  And, by knowing these tips and working the test correctly you can vastly improve the likelihood that your answers will accurately reflect your knowledge of the topic.

Always show up prepared for the test.  In other words, bring the right amount of pencils, pens, erasers, and calculators if allowed.  And bring spares – spare pens, erasers and calculator batteries.  Your tween should get plenty of rest the night before.  Wake up early and eat a nutritious breakfast to feed your brain with the nutrition it needs to function optimally.  They should arrive in their class or exam on time.

During the test there are a few things to do that will make a difference in the outcome.  For instance, always read the directions carefully!  Many points have been lost by students who don’t read the directions carefully.  Preview the test and work the easy parts first.  If they are penalized for incorrect responses then don’t give an educated guess.  Save time at the end of the test to review your answers for completeness – your first answer is usually the correct one so don’t change answers but check to be sure you have answered all questions.

These preparations are good for any type of test question.  Now, what do you do when you are faced with multiple-choice questions versus short answer questions?

Your tween should read the question completely and try to answer the question without reading any of the answers first.  This way the choices on the test won’t trick them.  If they can write on the test then cross out the answers they know aren’t right.  Don’t have them change answers because your first one is usually correct.  In questions that have “All of the Above” as a choice and they see at least two answers that are correct then it is probably the right answer.  The correct answer is usually the one with the most information.  And, a positive choice is more likely to be true than a negative one.

If you are stumped by the question or more than one answer seems correct then narrow the field.  Choose the answer that is true in all situations and not in only a limited or narrow condition.  If you have to make an assumption to get the answer then ask yourself if the assumption is obvious enough that all students would make it.  Avoid reading too much into questions – most instructors don’t intentionally deceive students.

If, after all of these tactics, you are still down to just 2 answers then go with your gut.  Research suggests that feelings are frequently accessible and correct.

On short answer questions, the teachers are usually looking for a foundation knowledge of the material that is factual. Students should focus on the keywords and ideas and eliminate information that doesn’t directly answer the question.  Answers should be concise and short.  If you are unsure of the answer make an educated guess that could get you more points than leaving the question completely blank.

If your tween doesn’t know the answer to the question, then they should come back to it at the end of the test.  Other questions may give your child the information you need to complete this one.  If you have more than one answer ask the instructor what they suggest.

When answering true/false questions remember that every part of the statement must be true for the answer to be true.  If any part is false then the whole statement is false.  Pay close attention to negatives or qualifiers.  Read these questions closely because it is easy to read quickly over a question and mistake the meaning.

Qualifiers are words that mean the statement must be true all of the time or part of the time.  Those words that mean the statement is true all of the time such as never and always, often lead to a false answer while those that imply that the statement is conditional will more likely lead to a true answer.

By using these test-taking strategies most students are able to improve their odds of increasing the number of test questions they get correct and the outcome of the examination.  Do not overlook the importance of understanding the material well nor the importance of using good test-taking strategies.

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