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Various Tips for Various Test Types

Objective Test

  • Survey the entire test.
  • Read the directions carefully, making sure you understand exactly what is expected.
  • Determine the point value for each question. Find out if you are penalized for guessing. If not, always guess and do not leave any unanswered questions.
  • Read each question carefully, underlining key words.
  • Don't read into questions beyond what is there.
  • Pass over the difficult or debatable questions on your first reading and then come back after completing those of which you were sure.
  • Use information from other questions.
  • If you know you made an error, change your first answer. if it is just a guess, keep your first impression.
  • Ask the instructor for clarification if you have specific questions. Spot check every fifth question for accuracy if you are using a computer-scored answer sheet.

Multiple Choice Test

  • Anticipate the answer and then look for it. Read all the alternatives before answering.
  • If your anticipated answer is not one of the options, discard it and concentrate on the given ones systematically. Cross out options that are clearly wrong. Be sure your choice fits exactly.
  • When two or more options look correct, compare them with each other. Study them to find out what makes them different. Choose the more encompassing option unless the question requires a specific answer.

True-False Test

  • In all questions, especially the true-false type, look for a specific determiner. Words such as rarely, usually, sometimes, and seldom allow for exceptions; never, always, no, and all indicate no exceptions.
  • Mark statements true only if they are true without exceptions. If any part of the statement is false, the whole statement is marked false.

Matching Tests

  • Stay in one column of a matching test. Try using the column with definitions and work backwards to find the words or symbols that match. Be sure to find out if the answers can be used more than once.

Answering an Essay Test with Several Questions

  • Do a memory data dump (write down you may forget).
  • Read all the test questions and underline the important words.

For Essay Questions: Important Words

  • The following words are commonly found in essay test questions. Understanding them is essential to success on these kinds of questions. Study this sheet thoroughly. Know these words backwards and forwards.
    • Analyze - Break into separate parts and discuss, examine, or interpret each part.
    • Compare - Examine two more things. Identify similarities.
    • Contrast - Examine two more things. Identify differences.
    • Criticize - Make judgments. Evaluate comparative worth. Criticism often involves analysis.
    • Define - Give the meaning; usually a meaning specific to the course or subject. Determine the precise limits of the term to be defined. Explain the exact meaning. Definitions are usually short.
    • Describe - Give a detailed account. Make a picture with words. List the characteristics, qualities, and parts.
    • Discuss - Consider the debate or argue the pros and cons of an issue. Write about any conflict. Compare and contrast.
    • Enumerate - List several ideas, aspects, events, things, qualities, reasons, etc.
    • Evaluate - Give your opinion or cite the opinion of an expert. Include evidence to support the evaluation.
    • Illustrate - Give concrete examples. Explain clearly by using comparisons or meaning. Describe, then evaluate.
    • Interpret - Comment upon, give examples, and describe relationships. Explain the meaning. Describe, then evaluate.
    • Outline - Describe main ideas, characteristics, or events. (Does not necessarily mean "write a Roman numeral/letter outline").
    • Prove - Support with facts (especially facts presented in class or in the exist).
    • State - Explain precisely.
    • Summarize - Give a brief and condensed account, including conclusions. Avoid unnecessary details.
    • Trace - Show the order of events or progress of a subject or event.
  • If any of these terms is still unclear to you, go to your unabridged dictionary. Thorough knowledge of these words will enable you to give the instructor what she/he is requesting.
  • As you read each question, write down key words relating to the answer that immediately come into your mind.
  • Develop a test progress schedule.
  • Reread and answer the easiest question(s) first.
  • Expand the key word outline for each subsequent question.
  • Organize the outline in your head.
  • Write the answer.
  • Go to the next easiest question.
  • Review all test questions before turning in test to instructor.

Ellis, David. Becoming a Master Student CSS 1994