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Test Taking Skills

Test Preparation Tips 

  1. Learn the instructor's testing style and study appropriately.
  2. Predict questions the professor might ask on the test.
  3. Take tests during daylight hours while you are fresh and awake.
  4. Review all your notes, textbook chapters, homework, and tests.
  5. Begin preparing for the test, at least, two to three days before tests-not the night before.
  6. Start preparing for your final exams after the very first class period.
  7. Don't cram. You may pass the test, but you will most likely forget everything in two or three days.
  8. Think of tests as a way to demonstrate what you know. Use the returned test to review the points that you may have missed.
  9. Note key terms, jot down brief notes


Exam Pacing

  1. Scan the entire test so that you know how to efficiently budget your time, and bring a watch.
  2. Note the number of questions and figure out how much time you have to answer each one.
  3. Read the instructions. Many students make HUGE errors by not carefully reading the instructions.
  4. Answer questions in a strategic order:
    •  First easy questions to build confidence, score points, and mentally orient yourself to vocabulary, concepts, and your studies (it may help you make associations with more difficult questions)
    • Then difficult questions or those with the most point value
      With objective tests, first eliminate those answers you know to be wrong, or are likely to be wrong, don't seem to fit, or where two options are so similar as to be both incorrect.
    • With essay/subjective questions, broadly outline your answer and sequence the order of your points.
  5. Don’t rush. Read the whole question and look for keywords.
  6. Change your answer only if you have reason to do so; research indicates that in 3 out of 4 times your first choice was probably correct.
  7. Return to questions you couldn't answer initially and try them again.
  8. Don't waste time reviewing answers of which you are confident are correct.
  9. Ask the instructor for clarification if you don't understand what they are asking for on the test.
  10. Write legibly. If the grader can't read what you wrote, they'll most likely mark it wrong.
  11. Keep a positive attitude throughout the whole test and try to stay relaxed. If you start to feel nervous take a few deep breaths to relax.
  12. If you have time left when you are finished, look over your test. Make sure that you have answered all the questions.  Watch out for careless mistakes and proofread your essay and/or short answer questions.
  13. Don't worry if others finish before you. Focus on the test in front of you.



Basic Writing Skills

  1. For assistance drafting, organizing, revising, and editing your college papers, visit the Writing Center.
  2. For assistance with a presentation visit the Presentation Practice Center.
  3. Take Eng-106 to develop your basic Writing Skills.
  4. Speak what you write:  Basically: If what you’re writing is hard to speak, what makes you think it’s going to be easy to read? It won’t be. So speak out loud what you write. If you can’t speak it naturally, rewrite it. Simple.
  5. Punctuate.  Here’s a quick and dirty guide when to use punctuation: 
    • Periods: When you’re writing down a thought and you’re at the end of that thought, put a period.
    • Commas: When you’re writing down a thought and you want to take a breath, whether mental or physical, put in a comma.
    • Semi-colon: Put these in your writing in the place where, in conversation, you’d arch your eyebrow or make some other sort of physical gesture signalling that you want to emphasize a point.
    • Colon: Use when you want to make an example of something: For example, just like this.
    • Question Mark: Quite obviously, when you have a question.
    • Exclamation point: When you’re really excited about something. You almost never need to use more than one in a paragraph.
    • Dashes: You can use these when you’ve already used a colon or a semi-colon in a sentence, but be aware that if you have more than one colon or semi-colon in a sentence, you’re probably doing something wrong.
  6. With sentences, shorter is better than longer: If a sentence you’re writing is longer than it would be comfortable to speak, it’s probably too long. Cut it up.
  7. Learn to spell: Everyone makes spelling errors so use ‘spell-check’ when possible (email or Microsoft Word, etc).  However, be particularly conscience of basic spelling errors like using “your” when you’re supposed to be using “you’re” or “its” for “it’s” (or in both cases, vice-versa). Here’s a good rule of thumb: For every spelling error you make, your apparent IQ drops by 5 points. For every “there, they’re, their” type of mistake you make, your apparent IQ drops by 10 points. Sorry about that, but there it is.
  8. Don’t use words you don’t really know: It’s nice to use impressive words from time to time, but if you use an impressive word incorrectly, everyone who does know what the word means will think of you as a pathetic, insecure dork. But generally: stick to words you know you know.
  9. Grammar matters, but not as much as grammar Nazis think it does: The point of grammar is to make the language as clear to as many people as possible.If you’re not confident about the grammar of a sentence, re-write it and strive for clarity. It’s better to be plain and understood than to have people admire your style and have not the slightest idea what you’re trying to say.
  10. Write a clear thesis statement: A thesis statement is a declarative statement that reveals the author’s purpose, provides justification to read the paper, and presents an opinion the author will support.  The thesis statement gives the reader a reason to read, provides the reader a roadmap of your paper, and gives your essay structure and direction. Use this thesis statement checklist  to ensure you have a good thesis statement.
  11. Front-load your point: If you make people wade through seven paragraphs of unrelated anecdotes before you get to what you’re really trying to say, you’ve lost.
  12. Try to write well every single time you write:  if you actually want to be a better writer, you have to be a better writer every time you write. It won’t kill you to write a complete sentence in bloggs or e-mail. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it until it will actually be more difficult to write poorly in e-mail than not.
  13. Read people who write well: Don’t just read for entertainment, but also look to see how they do their writing — how they craft sentences, use punctuation, break their prose into paragraphs, and so on.
  14. When in doubt, simplify: Worried you’re not using the right words? Use simpler words. Worried that your sentence isn’t clear? Make a simpler sentence. Worried that people won’t see your point? Make your point simpler. Nearly every writing problem you have can be solved by making things simpler.
  15. Have a trusted associate read your printed document carefully for errors
  16. Become familiar with the various writing styles that your wrting assignments may require.  These are available on the English Department home page


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