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Building your Test-Taking Skills

The ultimate measure of whether learning has taken place is often the dreaded test. The trauma of test taking planted its roots early in your formal education by means of parental, teacher and peer approval or disapproval. In spite of your current feelings about test taking, developing and maintaining a positive attitude usually will get you through the testing ordeal.

Belief in failure produces failure.
Belief in success produces success.

If you approach a test with the attitude that you'll fail, chances are you will fail. You will simply reinforce your negative attitude. A positive approach to test taking will usually produce positive results.

In addition to a positive attitude, you also have to sharpen your test-taking skills. There are certain basic skills or techniques that you need to have, regardless of the type of test you're taking. These basic test-taking techniques include:

  • Proper preparation prior to testing. You must study and review the material on which you're to be tested.
  • Scan the test first by browsing through the test content in order to get a feel for the types of questions being asked and timing necessary to complete the test.
  • Always read the full question very carefully for understanding, and then proceed to read all of the answers.
  • First answer those questions that you feel most confident about, and then address the remaining questions.
  • Once you select an answer for a question, usually you should not change it. Normally, your first thought (or guess) is your best choice.

Occasionally, you may have to take an essay test. In answering essay questions, you need the ability to write a response that is concise and to the point of the question being asked. This means that you should begin your answer with a topic sentence, followed by additional sentences that support the topic of your paragraph. Avoid rambling and writing solely for the purpose of filling up space. Stay connected.