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Test Taking

Test Taking Skills (copyright 2006)

By Matthew J. Marino, Sr.


Test taking is a skill, similar to riding a bike, rollerblading, or instant messaging.  The key to learning is to learn material, forget it, then re-learn the material.  You need to give your brain a little time to process/forget the information before going back over the material to build a stronger learning.To improve testing results, (for psychology, economics, ACT, and the other tests in life), I have prepared the following checklist:


Pay attention in class.  After all, I construct the test, so I will focus on the information that will be tested.  This step cannot be overlooked, as it is the foundation of good test scores.

While paying attention, take excellent notes.  Write down information in your own words, with your own examples.  Try to relate the information to things you already know.  This makes the information more easily stored and readily retrieved.  This is the first step to storing the information in your long term memory.

Test preparation:  follow the suggested guidelines.  Count the number of text chapters the test will cover.  For this example, I will use a four chapter (typical unit) test.

Day 1: 

Review your notes for the entire unit.

Read the first chapter.

Review your notes for the entire unit.

Day 2:

Review your notes for the entire unit.

Read the first chapter review or summary.  Most textbooks have brief one page reviews at the end of each chapter.  Take the practice tests, if any.

Read the second chapter

Review your notes for the entire unit.

Day 3: 

Review your notes for the entire unit.

Read the summaries/reviews from the first two chapters.

Read the third chapter.

Review your notes for the entire unit.

Day 4

Review your notes for the entire unit.

Read the summaries/reviews from the first three chapters

Read the fourth chapter.

Review your notes for the entire unit.

Finish off by completing any study guides and/or practice tests.  If you don’t know something, get the answer straight and figure out how you missed it or where you were confused.

While taking the test:

Ask questions

Go over each question at least twice

Use the test, answers for questions may be embedded in the wording of other questions

Avoid responses that use the “extreme” words such as always and never.  Nothing in life is always or never something.

Don’t pay attention to “patterns of answers”.  I do not use them and the answers are in a random pattern.

When one of the answers is “D. All of the above”, you only need to get two of them to fit for the answer to be correct.  If you are sure one is not the answer, then you have a 50-50 chance of getting the right answer.

There is no magic to test taking.  Know the material and be confident.



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