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Rae Largura: Test-Taking Tricks for Students

Doing homework and studying is obviously important for making a good grade on an exam. Taking exams is important for teachers to gauge progress and determine grades.

The first criteria for exam success is to stay current with homework, assignments and lectures. Getting behind is usually the biggest reason for test failure and anxiety.

I often see students who have done their homework, studied for hours, stayed current in lessons and yet do poorly on exams. Test taking can be a skill on its own:

» Always go to class the day before the test for the review session. Always do the practice test, if there is one.

» Be prepared, not scared. Anxiety about a test does not pay off. Use that energy to get prepared for the test.

» When memorizing, use the chunking technique. 4-8-9-0-2-1-5 is easier to remember when you think about it as 489-0215. Also when memorizing, create a personal story or a rhyme around the word or topic — the sillier the better.

» Get a good night's sleep and eat a healthy breakfast. It is a fact that our brains need fuel. Sleep and healthy foods are our brains' fuel.

» Read the full question and every word in the question. Read all the answers. An answer may feel correct, however, there may be an answer that is more correct. Use the process of elimination for the incorrect answers.

» If an answer includes an extreme modifier such as always, never and every, then it is the incorrect answer.

» When all answers are numbers, the highest and lowest numbers are usually incorrect.

» Look for the word before the blank. For instance, if the word is “an,” the answer will start with a vowel.

» If an answer jumps out at you, it is probably correct, then do not change it. Your initial response is usually correct. When an answer does not feel sure, then take your time, think it through, do not rush. Lack of preparation is the first reason one does not do well on a test, rushing to the answer is the second.

» Don't be shy. It is not only OK, it is respected to ask the teacher for clarification if a question is confusing to you.

» When you receive the test back after it has been graded, review the incorrect answers and correct them. Save the test for a midterm or final to use as a study reference.

Any subject, any grade: What is your question for a tutor? Email [email protected].

— Rae Largura is president of Leading Edge Tutors. The opinions expressed are her own.

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