Test taking is a 3-step process: Before-During-After. Each step has several actionable tips associated with it. Regardless whether your exam is in-person or online, the process works the same way.

Step #1: Tips Before Taking an Exam

Preparation is the key to success

  • Attend class regularly
  • Read text
  • Take notes
  • Complete assignments on time
  • Create and complete study guides, flashcards, charts, pictures, etc.
  • Get organized
  • Know the topics you will need to know for the exam
  • Make a study plan
  • Form a study group
  • Access tutoring
  • Attend faculty’s and/or TA’s office hours
  • Test yourself using active recall or practice problems/tests
  • Practice smarter not harder
  • Study the most difficult material when you are alert
  • Manage your review time
  • Use test strategies that have worked well for you
  • Avoid procrastination/cramming
  • Make sure you have what you need for the test
  • Get a good night’s sleep

Step #2: Tips During Taking an Exam

Arrive early, get comfortable but alert, and get in the zone

  • Read/listen to directions carefully
  • Scan the whole test
  • Evaluate the importance of each section (points earned)
  • Read each question/problem carefully
  • Answer questions in a strategic order
  • Answer easier, shorter questions first to build momentum
  • Skip questions you do not know and circle them so you can go back later
  • Watch out for keywords, hedge phrases, or extreme statements
  • Pay attention to contextual clues
  • Look for answers in other test questions
  • Avoid “fact traps”
  • In margins, jot down memory aids, key concepts, formulas, etc.
  • Pace yourself
  • Manage your test anxiety by staying relaxed and confident
  • Use relaxation techniques
  • Do not allow fear to take over and stay positive
  • Go over the test to make sure you answered all the questions and correct any mistakes

Step #3: Tips After Taking an Exam

Self-reflection is the key to improving performance

  • Reflect upon your experience taking the exam as well as your performance
  • Welcome the feedback
  • Go over your test after it is graded
  • Identify areas for improvement
  • List the strategies that worked well for you
  • Seek advice from your faculty and/or TA, and peers
  • Put it in perspective, learn from it, and move forward

Learn more about it with the PowerPoint here.