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ASC Success Strategies: Studying for and Taking a Test

Studying for and taking a test

Studying for a Test

Some courses and programs at Walden have more tests than others. If you find yourself staring at an exam date, you might be interested in a few tips and tricks to prepare yourself.

To get started, we’d suggest watching Wellcast’s video on studying for a test; it serves as a nice introduction and honestly is pretty motivational.  (A supplemental worksheet is provided as well.)

You’ll probably also want to take a look at some of our material on note taking and reading retention strategies. After all, most tests are administered to assess comprehension of materials assigned, so you’re going to want to make sure that you’re absorbing that information in a thoughtful way.

Of course, your study space is important, too—we’ve addressed that above—but you’ll also want to make sure you have the right resources at the ready before you begin. Examtime offers free, cloud-based tools to create quizzes, notes, and flashcards, perfect for doing a bit of pretesting and self-quizzing. For those that find mnemonic devices useful (remember ROY G. BIV?), sites like spacefem can be helpful, too—just don’t go overboard.

As you might guess, Googling “studying for a test” will yield a lot of other suggestions—from healthy eating habits (Omega-3 fatty acids, caffeine, and cocoa over 70%), to the importance of sleep and exercise (get some!), to the perfect times to study (right before bed, as soon as you get up)—but quite honestly, we’re hesitant to suggest a one-size-fits-all approach.

If you have any additional tips or resources you’d like to share with us, feel free to send them to academicskills@waldenu.edu Maybe we’ll even post a few on this site!

Taking a Test

While there’s no approach to taking a test that’ll guarantee you an A, here are a few simple steps to consider:

Step 1: While your instinct may be to dive right in with Question 1, make sure you carefully read the instructions first. You’d be surprised by how many tests ask you, for instance, to answer three of the five following questions.

Step 2: If it’s a timed test, you’ll want to scan it and get a sense of how you’re going to budget the time you’ve been allotted. Do you need to answer 20 questions in an hour or 80? This information should impact your approach to each individual question.

Step 3: Begin with Question 1 and get all the easy questions out of the way first. This’ll ensure that you have more time to address the headier stuff later. Again, we want to make sure that we’re reserving as much time as possible for the tough stuff.

Step 4: Once you’ve knocked out the easy one, return to the beginning of the test and check the time. You’ll want to get a sense of how many questions/prompts you have to respond to or answer in the remaining time.

Step 5: Now that you’ve moved on to the tough stuff, you’ll want to refocus. Recall what you know and recognize in the questions/prompts. Think. Do not dwell on what you’re struggling with, but rather what you can recall.

If some of your questions/prompts are multiple choice, approach them methodically. Cross out the options that are absolutely incorrect; put the odds in your favor it you need to guess.

Finally, don’t be afraid to skip the ones you’re struggling with again. There’s a good chance that a following question or prompt will jog your memory, allowing you to go back. (There’s also a chance that the answer to this Question 7, for instance, may be hinted at in Question 31.)

Step 6: Once you’ve answered all of the challenging questions/prompts, return to the ones you skipped and again check the time. If they’re essay questions, what do you have to lose? Start free writing to the prompt. Consider what you know, what words you recognize in the prompt, and what information you think the prompt wants you to relay or discuss. Give it your best shot.

If your final few toughies are fill in the blank or open ended questions, guess. Don’t leave anything blank. There’s nothing wrong with trying.

As always, we’re curious about your habits. What works for you when you’re taking a test? How do you ensure an A grade? Let us know at academicskills@mail.waldenu.edu and maybe we’ll post your responses on our site!