If you’re in college or nursing school, you’ve probably realized by now that tests can be quite a bit harder than they were in high school. College examinations require serious critical thinking skills. In this article and video, you can learn some simple test-taking tips to help you score higher on your exams.
In my previous video, I talked about how you can prepare for exams. I covered a couple of study strategies that I’d use, tips like wearing a watch, eating a meal, etc. In this video, I’ll cover some strategies that you can use to increase your odds of scoring as high as possible.
1. Find out if you can write on the test. If you can, great. If not, have some scrap sheets of paper ready. Writing is hugely important because it will help you use the process of elimination to select the best answer. Furthermore, you’ll know which questions to review at the end because you can mark the questions in which you had to take a guess.
2. Always write your name on the test and/or scantron. Basic tip, I know. Yet many people forget to do this! Some professors will fail you, others will frown on it, and others may dock your points. Write your name before anything else.
3. Always read the exam’s instructions before doing anything—some may say choose the best answer. Some may say two answers, etc. My high school teacher once played a trick on the class to illustrate the importance of reading the instructions. He gave us a test and told us, “This won’t count for score, but whoever finishes first will get a prize.” The instructions read the following: “Read every question on this test carefully before you begin the exam.” I put my name on the test and jumped to question one. It was a math problem. So, I took out my calculator and started crunching numbers. Question two read, “Write an “X” beside your name.” I did that. The next question read, “Clap your hands three times.” I thought it was weird, but I did it. Everyone was laughing. Suddenly, people turned in their test. I thought, “There’s no way these people are finishing this fast!” Finally, I got to the last question, which read, “Do not answer any question on this test. Write your name on the exam, and turn it in.” Suddenly, it dawned on me that the instructions said to read every question BEFORE you begin…sigh…
4. Look for any of the following qualifiers: Choose the best answer; choose two answers; which of the following is NOT; all of the following are true, except. Most people get tripped up because they don’t pay attention to the qualifying statement.
5. Bubble in all answers clearly, or mark it clearly on the test. Use a number 2 pencil if required, and completely erase any stray marks.
6. Keep an eye on the time throughout the test. The last thing you want is to have 50 minutes left, and you’ve still got 20 questions to answer! You can divide up time into halves or quarters, and then estimate how well you’re doing on time. For example, if you’re taking a 60 minute test with 30 questions, you know that you have about 2 minutes for each question. What I would do is divide my time into halves or quarters. For example, if you have 60 minutes for a 100 question test, you know that after 15 minutes, you should be close to question 25. After 30 minutes, you should be somewhere near question 50.
7. Eliminate obvious wrong answers first. This will narrow down your selection and increase your odds of guessing the right answer. I mark off the questions that I know are incorrect. If I’m unsure, but I have it narrowed between two answers, I go ahead and go with my gut. But I put a / mark beside the question, which tells me that I had to take a guess and should review it later. If I have no clue and have to take a total guess (no answers eliminated), I put an X or question mark. If I knew the answer 100%, I wouldn’t put anything. Don’t overanalyze questions. Read them, and go with your gut.
8. Ask for clarification. I took an Anatomy and Physiology test, and the question was asking about Axons and Dendrites. I couldn’t tell whether it was going upstream or downstream. Therefore, I asked the teacher for a clarification on the wording, and I got it right.
9. Always review the test if you have time. In other words, use all class time possible. Look at the questions you had no clue about. Then look at questions where you guessed between two possible answers. Finally, review the questions you knew you had right.Look for questions that clarify or reveal the answers to other questions. Most tests will do this in some way, even if unintentional. See the video for my example of this.
Random Tips for Guessing
- The longest answer is often the right answer on a multiple choice test.
- If you don’t have a clue—choose “B” on a multiple choice test. It has a statistically higher chance of being correct.
- ‘All of the above’ or ‘None of the above’ have a higher chance of being right, so choose that.