Test Taking Tips

Successful testing includes three parts: preparing for a test, taking the test, and post-test review. Begin with our handout of General Tips, which reviews all three steps in testing. Another handout outlines the PLAE Model to test taking: Plan, List, Activate, and Evaluate. These resources are being made available for students to use in any manner most effective for you. Please contact the Student Success Center to meet with a Student Success Consultant if you would like to learn how to strengthen any part of your testing ability.

Test Preparation

Good test preparation also includes reading the textbook and taking clear concise notes in lecture and from the text. Be sure to hone these skills as well!

Barriers to Test Performance:

Stress and test performance are related to each other. For many students, test performance declines when stress is over-stimulated. The common stressors can be divided into physical barriers and cognitive barriers. Review this handout for ideas for manage both types of stress and prepare for tests.

Cramming:

We are NOT advocates of cramming as the only method of test preparation. If you want to "cram" before a test as part of your review process, here are some ideas to make the final review effective.

Final Examinations:

Preparing for finals or other major cumulative examinations may require additional planning. The following handouts identify additional strategies:

  • General Finals Preparation: This handout guides you through the information you need to gather to prepare for an exam. Use this information to organize all your responsibilities for finals.
  • Planning for Final Projects: The format of this worksheet allows you to track your specific responsibilities addressed in the "General Finals Preparation" handout.
  • Finals Time Plan: If you are a visual person, use this calendar to outline the timing of your responsibilities during dead and finals weeks.

 

Basic Skills Preparation:

Several resources are available to help prepare students for the Basic Skills Exam (Illinois Certification Testing System). Visit the Basic Skills homepage for more information.

 

Test Taking

Managing Test Anxiety:

Even well-prepared students experience test anxiety. Various strategies in this handout may be used to help you relax and focus during a test.

Types of test questions:

There are four basic types of test questions. Regardless of the course, there are general strategies that can be used to be successful when responding to each type of question.

    • Objective test questions have one right answer.

      These typically include multiple choice, true-false, and matching test items. Refer to our handout on objective testing for strategies.

    • Subjective test questions are usually in essay format.

      These test items challenge you to develop your response by applying your knowledge. The handout on essay testing provides an overview of strategies for subjective test questions.

    • Objective-Subjective test questions that require you to demonstrate knowledge by both answering and explaining your response to a question.

      If you develop your skills for objective questions and subjective questions, you will find success when responding to mixed-type questions.

    • Problem solving test questions typically appear in math and science courses.

      Responding to these questions is a special type of objective-subjective question. Often, you will be presented a problem you are not familiar with, but your basic knowledge will be enough to allow you to solve the problem.

Taking Online Exams: Most strategies for in-person testing will work for online testing. Use this handout to pick up new strategies for online testing.