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Student Success CenterSeminar Series Speaker: Chris Coughlin
Test Taking Strategies …How to get that “A” you always wanted
What will be covered.. • Techniques for improving your test taking abilities including: • Physical, emotional, and mental preparation • Study strategies • Overcoming test anxiety • Test taking tips for the many types of tests • Avoiding academic dishonesty
Self assessment 1. __ I always begin studying for an exam at least a week in advance 2. __ I usually find that my class notes are very helpful when I’m preparing for an exam 3. __ I usually study for an exam with at least one other person 4. __ I usually know what to expect on a test before I go into the exam 5. __ I study for tests by predicting possible questions and seeing if I am prepared to answer them
Self Assesment 6. __ I predict essay questions and develop outlines of the answers 7. __ I am careful to maintain good eating, sleeping, and exercise habits before exams 8. __ If I finish an exam early or on time, I recheck my paper 9. __ I usually know that I have done well on an exam when I finish. 10. __ I seldom feel overly nervous when studying for or taking exams
Exam Preparation • Starts at the beginning of the semester • Talk to the instructor • Structure of tests • Time allowed • Time management • Make a schedule
Physical Preparation • Get plenty of sleep • Staying up late to cram the night before will impair your mental abilities • Get exercise • Aerobic activities reduce stress • Keeps you relaxed, positive, and provides study breaks • Eat right • Eat breakfast before an exam to give you the energy you need
Emotional Preparation • Know the material • Confidence is important or doing well • Practice relaxation techniques • Go for a run • Sit in a quite area and take a few deep breaths • Do some stretches • Positive self-talk • Remind yourself that you are prepared, and will do great! • Self Fulfilling Prophecy
Planning for Success • Find out about the test • Leave no unanswered questions • Schedule out study time • Leave plenty of time to prepare • Study Groups • Get a group of people together to review for tests • Quiz each other, teach each other
Planning for Success • Get a tutor • At the SSC we have tutors for most core classes • Get help early on • Go to: www.valdosta.edu/ssc Or call: 333-7570 to schedule appointments We are always here to help!
Studying for Tests • Make Review Sheets • Condense notes into units for easy management • Make a list of key terms for quick reference and study • Flash Cards • Great for making use of dead time (waiting for the bus, waiting for a class to start etc.)
Studying for Tests • Write summaries of class topics • A good way to judge your know how is to explain what you have learned to someone else
Test Anxiety • Sources of Test Anxiety • Pressure to Succeed • Expectations of loved ones • Lack of preparation
Test Anxiety • Specific or generalized • One test will not make or break you • Anxious about a specific type of test? Specific subject? • practice, practice, practice
Test Anxiety • Symptoms - can manifest at different times for different people: • “butterflies” in the stomach • Feeling queasy or nauseous • Headaches • Fast heartbeat • Hyperventilating • Shaking • Sweating • Muscle cramps
Test Anxiety • During the test • Experience the sensation of “going blank” • Undermines all test preparation • Severe Test Anxiety • If you become physically ill please seek help from a physician, campus health services, or a counselor
Test Anxiety • Combating Test Anxiety • Study hard, eat right, and get lots of sleep • Long deep breathes, and a slow exhale • Stretch routines • Stay positive
Types of Tests • Problem-Solving Tests • In the sciences, math, statistics, etc. • Show all work to avoid careless mistakes • Read all directions carefully • Double check work when done
Types of Tests • Machine-Scored Tests • Fill out all personal information required on answer sheet • Fill in each answer fully • Make sure the number on answer sheet corresponds to the number on the question • Erase stray marks
Types of Tests • Computerized Tests • Make sure you are comfortable with the format • Ask professor to clarify anything you don’t understand • If available, take practice tests
Types of Tests • Laboratory Tests • Always attend Lab! • This is where you practice for the exams • Review notes • Also, practice drawing any diagrams you might be required to recreate
Types of Tests • Open-Book/Open-Note Tests • Usually HARDER than closed-book/closed-note tests • Professor expects more from your answers • Study and organize your notes • Make sure you know where everything is in your book • Do not make the mistake of not studying, just because your book is there • Looking things up in your notes or book takes time!
Types of Tests • Take-Home Tests • Usually HARDER than in-class tests • Allow plenty of time to complete the take home test • Your professor usually expects more from your answers • Check with professor to find out to what extent collaboration is allowed
Tips for Test Taking • Essay Questions • Budget the time • Read the question carefully • Make an outline first • Make answers clear, concise, and organized • Know the key task words • Examples: Compare, Analyze, Contrast, Criticize, Define, Describe, Discuss, Evaluate, Etc.
Tips for Test Taking • Multiple-Choice Questions • Read the question, and generate your own answer • Pick the answer that best matches your own • If you don’t know the answer to a question right away, narrow down your options • Skip questions you don’t know and comeback later. A later question might give a clue to its answer!
Tips for Test Taking • Fill-in-the-Blank Questions • If you don’t know it right away, generate a few possible answers • Pick the one you feel best fits the question • True/False Questions • For a question to be true, every detail must be true • Definite terms such as always, never, only are usually false • Don’t second guess yourself when a sequence of questions is all true or all false
Tips for Test Taking • Matching Questions • Review all terms and descriptions before answering • Match the ones you are most sure of • Use process of elimination to help finish
Before the Test • Get to class a little early • Make sure you have all the materials you need • Go to the bathroom, get a drink of water • Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself
When You Get Your Test • Skim over the whole test to get the big picture, schedule time accordingly • “Mind Dump” – On some tests it is helpful to write a few notes down of important concepts you don’t want to forget • When you finish don’t leave! • Use spare time to go back over the test to catch mistakes
After the Test • If your professor reviews the exam, GO TO CLASS! • It is helpful to hear what he was looking for and why • Review your test to see the mistakes you made • Reviewing mistakes and learning from them helps you to prepare for future tests
Academic Honesty • Types of Misconduct • Cheating – intentionally using unauthorized materials such as notes, study aids, the guy sitting to your left • Plagiarism – taking another person’s ideas and claiming them as your own. • When in doubt, cite it • Reducing likelihood of problems • Know the rules, Set clear boundaries with peers, seek help when needed
Seek Help! • Student Success Center • Your Professor • Academic Advisor • Counselor • Tutor
References • Gardner, J. N., Jewler, A. J., Barefoot, B. O. (2007) Your college experience: Strategies for success. Boston: Thomson/Wadsworth. • http://www.d.umn.edu/kmc/student/loon/acad/strat/test_take.html • http://www.bucks.edu/~specpop/tests.htm • http://www.studygs.net/
Thanks for Coming! • The next installation of the SSC Seminar Series: Date: Time: Place: