Effective study, and test taking strategies contribute to greater productivity, higher grades and less stress.
This seminar presents a systematic, research-based approach for test preparation and test taking.
Practical strategies and checklists are provided to improve learning, retention, and application of complex and detailed information.
- Gain a command of the content.
- Achieve a peak performance.
- Accumulate points toward a grade that reflects your potential.
- Avoid excessive test stress.
- Enjoy a sense of accomplishment.
___ I forget what I studied when taking a test.
___ I wait until the last minute to study.
___ I blank out or freeze during tests.
___ I feel rushed when taking tests.
___ I don’t score well on multiple-choice tests.
___ I don’t do my best on essay tests.
___ I don’t do well on problem-solving items.
___ I rarely take practice tests.
Staying on Track
(Table: Months, weeks presented horizontally and course assignments (tests, projects, papers, etc.) listed vertically)
Learning Objectives (Bloom, 1984)
To Improve Test Scores
Review the results of a test:
- Check that the test was accurately scored.
- Identify your pattern of correct responses.
- List strengths.
- Identify problem areas (e.g., content, types of questions, time, memory, problem-solving.)
- Discuss results with the instructor.
- List any barriers to learning or performing.
- Find where information from the test is located in text or notes.
- Plan a strategy to do better the next time.
- Set realistic goals for the next test.
- Project a study schedule.
- Consider a tutor or study group.
- Identify ways to improve difficulties (e.g., time management, reading, memory.)
- Pace memorization and study.
- Take practice tests.
- Ensure positive study conditions.
Effective Study Settings
- Soft, non glare lighting
- Non distracting sights/sounds
- Electronic Lockdown
- Clear working space
- Accessible materials/resources
- Study divided into smaller “chunks”
- Checklist for staying on track
- Frequent, short breaks
- Available resources if “stuck”
- Lock down the digital devices for 15- to 20- minute periods.
- Unleash your psychic energy.
- Complete a tremendous amount of work in a brief time when you have time to think and work in a non-distracting setting.
- Enjoy a greater sense of peace and satisfaction as you complete tasks
Study Settings: Quiet, Comfortable, Functional
(photos of café, coffee shop, desk, classroom, library, bed, in park under a tree, etc.)
SQ4R: Preparing for Tests
- The test assignment, previous homework. assignments, lecture notes, old tests.
- Chapters, study aids, vocabulary.
- Locate sample questions or old tests.
- Create possible test questions using lecture notes.
- Ask the instructor for sample questions.
Read and Reflect
- Use your questions to guide your reading/thinking.
- Reread portions of the text/note and circle key words.
- Visualize the answers to questions.
- Restate the answers to questions in your own words. Lists steps to solve problems.
- Elaborate by adding facts and examples.
- Write the answers to questions in your own words.
- Organize the information by designing charts, diagrams, or pictures.
- Combine information from different sources
- Create a “mini quiz.”
- Review and Edit
- Review your questions and answers.
- Check the accuracy and completeness of answers.
- Recreate the charts or diagrams.
- Identify topics that need further review.
The Blank Page Exercise
- Classify and categorize
- Organize visually in charts or diagrams
Taking Objective Tests
- Use self-encouragement and coping statements.
- Circle key words in the test directions.
- Preview the entire test (e.g., topics, difficulty, question types, points.)
- Decide the time to allot to each item.
- Decide which questions to answer first.
During the test:
- Ask for clarification if you don’t understand the directions.
- Answer all the easy questions first.
- Skip those you don’t know.
- Look for concepts embedded in the question.
- Pace yourself. Keep track of the time.
- Keep yourself balanced by “psyching up and cooling down” during the test.
- Take brief rest periods. Put a “break” mark on page.
- Check your work.
- Don’t change answers unless you can prove it.
(another chart next to it with headings of “Similarities” and “Differences”)
To Increase Organization
Sequence, Tree, Organization, Process
Taking Essay Tests
Before answering questions:
- Read each question aloud
- Circle key words (e.g., list, compare, trace)
- Note the points allotted to each questions
- Organize your key words on a chart, timeline or diagram
- Develop an outline or use PERSIA as a guide
- Estimate the time to complete each section
- Leave space to write an introduction
- Provide answers to main idea questions
- Add supporting statements, examples, facts
- Insert headings and subheadings if possible
- Write or print legibly
- Check off items as you follow your outline
- Leave 2-5 minutes to review the test
- Review what you have written for accuracy and completeness
- Include addition information if possible
- Rewrite any words that are illegible
- Take a deep breathe
- Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
Format for Essay Questions
Introduction – Answer to Question #1
Answer to Question #2 – Answer to Question #3
Additional Examples or Facts – Conclusion
Managing Test-Related Stress
Causes of Test Stress
- “Normal” apprehension
- Unfamiliarity with certain types of tests
- Poor preparation
- Poor reading, writing, or note taking skills
- Poor test taking skills
- Negative experiences with tests
- Negative associations with content
- Low self-confidence
Before Entering the Room:
- Check that you have necessary materials
- Arrive early to avoid feeling rushed
- Avoid unnecessary anxiety-related pre-exam talking
- Think positive thoughts
- Establish a warm-up routine
- Read directions out loud
- Write helpful hints to yourself (e.g., take your time)
- Rehearse visually (I can see myself performing well)
- Breathe deeply
- Relax muscles
During the Test:
- Think positive thoughts
- Be prepared to confront problems
- Create positive images
- Rehearse visually
- Relax muscles
- Take a brief rest
- Eat a snack
Test Taking Dos and Don’ts
- Do buy blue books and supplies early in the semester.
- Do join a study group.
- Do go to office hours, talk to the instructor.
- Do take practice tests.
- Don’t set unrealistic goals.
- Don’t forget to get enough sleep, nutrition, and exercise.
- Don’t forget to review tests and find out how to improve. Ask for advice from the instructor.
Targets for Change