Test Taking Strategies

I. Concentration

A. If you are having difficulties concentrating when studying:

1. Make note of those things that are distracting you and develop a plan to overcome them.

2. Schedule your time to study and stick to your schedule.

3. Make sure that study blocks are manageable - blocks of time that are too long may be too much to manage, blocks of time that are too short, may not provide enough time to learn anything.

4. Take a short break if you find yourself day-dreaming.

5. Be sure that your study area is well-lit to avoid eye strain.


II. Study Skills Workshop
(SQ3R - Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review)


III. Test Taking Strategies

A. Prior to the Test

1. Begin to prepare for exams on the first day of class

a. Know when exams will be (read syllabus)

b. Know how many exams there will be

c. Know the types of exams that will be given

d. Know the weight of each exam toward your total grade

2. Plan to review for exams on a weekly basis (avoid cramming)

3. Use study skills when reviewing (SQ3R - Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review)

4. Try using flash cards to study test material

B. During the Test

1. Be aware of the type of test that you are taking:

a. Multiple Choice - True False - Matching

b. Short Answer

c. Essay

2. Read the Directions Carefully!

3. Find out if there is a penalty for guessing - if not be sure to answer ALL questions.

4. Preview the test - estimate how much time you will need to allot for each section.

5. Work on the easiest parts first - know your strengths (essay, versus multiple choice, vs. short answer)

6. Ask the instructor to explain any questions or directions that are unclear to you.

7. When answering essay questions, make an outline in the margin prior to answering the question.

8. Try to answer questions from the instructor's point of view (remember how they presented the topic area, what they emphasized.

9. If you think that there are two answers that are correct, but you can only choose one, use the margin to explain your choice.

10. When responding to questions, circle key words so as to help you focus on the central point.

11. Make sure that your writing is legible.

12. Save time at the end of the exam to review the test, make any guesses (if no penalty), and correct errors.


C. After the test

1. If the teacher reviews the test - be sure to attend that class! If he/she does not review the test in class, be sure to try to find out where you had errors and what the correct answers were and why.

2. Try to learn how your teacher "thinks" about the exam during examination reviews.

IV. Test Anxiety

Test Anxiety occurs when our feelings of anxiety interfere with our ability to recall previously learned information during a testing situation. In other words, you "forget" or "blank out" what you've previously learned and thus do poorly on a test.


    • Do you find that after you leave the testing situation you are able to recall the information that you "forgot" or "blanked out" during the test?

    • Do you feel "stressed" or "anxious" during the test?


If yes to the questions above - It appears that what you are experiencing is not a "memory" problem but rather a problem with "accessing" the information that you've learned during the testing situation.

The goal of dealing with your test anxiety is to remove the "blocks" to your ability to "access" the information necessary for successful test performance.

Online Test Anxiety Assessment