Lesson 9: Be Active While Preparing For, and Taking, Exams

Before you take an exam or quiz, try to get as much information about it as possible. For instance, find out what kind of test it will be (multiple choice, essay, short-answer, etc.), what material it will cover, and how many points it is worth. Typically this information will be available in the quiz area before you actually begin the timed section of the quiz.

All quizzes and exams are timed so make sure you allow yourself enough time to complete.

When you begin studying for the exam, try to study in one- to two-hour time blocks to help keep your mind fresh. Also, take breaks between study sessions; simply getting up and moving around can help refresh your mind and body.

Some other pointers include:

  • Review actively. Pay attention to areas in the weekly material where you have difficulty. It’s a good idea to ask for clarification on anything as you go along so you will be ready if it shows up on a quiz.
  • For an essay exam, practice writing short paragraphs on topics covered in class.
  • Anticipate the kinds of questions the instructor might ask. Make up a test yourself, and see if you can answer the questions correctly.
  • Set up a study group or schedule study sessions with your group if you already have one. Ask each other questions, and discuss important concepts. Stay on task; this is not time for socializing.

Once you are ready to take the quiz or exam and if it is allowed you may want to scan all the questions first to see what you are going to need to know.

Here are some other strategies while taking the exam:

  • Answer the questions you're sure of first. If there are matching questions, answer the items you know first, then guess at the rest. If it's a multiple choice test, eliminate the obviously incorrect answers first. If it's a true/false test, look for key words such as "always," "sometimes," "never," and "usually."
  • Do some brainstorming before you begin answering essay questions. Jot down key words, ideas, concepts, phrases. Try some free writing to loosen up. Divide up the allotted time so you'll have time to recopy (if necessary) and to proofread carefully.
  • If you have several essay questions to answer, divide the time equally among the number of questions. For example, if you must answer four questions in two hours, limit yourself to 30 minutes per question.
  • Try to allow yourself time at the end to double-check your answers.

Make sure you have answered all of the questions before clicking the Save and Submit button. You can't inadvertently submit an exam by accidentally clicking Save and Submit or pressing Enter on your keyboard because a dialog box will pop up, asking you to confirm your submission. However, it's good practice to review your answers prior to submitting.