Exam / Test Taking Strategies

The following strategies will help prepare you for taking all exams and tests.  *You must adapt these to the specific type of test you’re taking, to be most effective.*


1. Be prepared.

  • Spend as many hours as necessary to understand the material that will be covered on the test well enough to achieve a high score.
  • Since teachers often slightly modify information on tests to determine if students understand the information, spend time on honing test-taking skills.

2. Always arrive early and take a moment to relax.

  • You’ll increase your confidence if you take time to relax.
  • You’ll be able to narrow your focus for the upcoming test.

3. Listen attentively to last minute instructions given by the instructor.

  • It is not uncommon for teachers to alter test details at the last minute.
  • If you miss test instructions, test taking anxiety will increase.

4. Read the test directions very carefully and watch for details.

  • It is not uncommon to have two correct answers on a multiple choice question.
  • Frequently, test instructions will notify students that they only need to complete two questions, but there will be 5 options.

5. Plan how you will use the allotted time.

  • Take time to estimate how must time you’ll have for each question.
  • Pace yourself so you can complete the test in the allotted timeframe.
  • Complete the questions you know first to save time.

6. Maintain a positive attitude.

  • Do not lose confidence or waste time if you encounter confusing or difficult questions. Answer questions you know first.
  • If you have no clue about the correct answer, make an educated guess if it will not count against your score.
  • Disregard patterns. It is probably coincidence if a string of multiple choice answers you know are correct are �a.�

7. Rely on your first impressions.

  • The first answer that pops in your mind is probably correct.
  • It can be counterproductive to review answers and make changes.

8. Plan to finish early and have time for review.

  • Go back and answer difficult questions after answering easy ones.
  • If you are required to complete an essay, review it for spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Check to make sure you have completed the entire test. It is not uncommon for questions to be listed on the opposite side of a page.

9. Consider every test a practice session – analyze your performance.

  • It takes time and practice to develop effective test taking skills.
  • To determine whether your test taking strategies are working, take time to evaluate your performance after each test.
  • Be sure to take note of where you’re struggling. Are you struggling with essays or multiple choice questions?
  • Arrange to meet with teachers to discuss low test scores to determine what you can do to improve. This is highly recommended if you struggle with essay questions.