Taking Tests

When you take a test, you are demonstrating your ability to understand course material or perform certain tasks. Successful test taking avoids carelessness. Examples of objective tests are true-false, multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank. Examples of subjective texts are short answer, essay, or oral exams. These suggestions may help you avoid careless errors!


  • Analyze your past test results. Each test can further prepare you for the next test. Use your tests to review when studying for final exams.
  • Arrive early for tests. Bring all the materials you will need such as pencils and pens, a calculator, a dictionary, and a watch. This helps you focus on the task at hand.
  • Be comfortable but alert. Choose a good spot and make sure you have enough room to work, maintain comfortable posture but don't "slouch".
  • Stay relaxed and confident. Remind yourself that you are well-prepared and are going to do well. If you find yourself anxious, take several slow, deep breaths to relax. Don't talk about the test to other students just before it; anxiety is contagious.

Test Taking:

  • Read the directions carefully. This may be obvious, but it will help you avoid careless errors. If there is time, quickly look through the test for an overview. Note key terms, jot down brief notes
  • Answer questions in a strategic order: First easy questions to build confidence, score points, and mentally orient yourself to vocabulary, concepts, and your studies (it may help you make associations with more difficult questions). Then difficult questions or those with the most point value. With objective tests, first eliminate those answers you know to be wrong, or are likely to be wrong, don't seem to fit, or where two options are so similar as to be both incorrect. With essay/subjective questions, broadly outline your answer and sequence the order of your points.
  • Resist the urge to leave as soon as you have completed all the items. Review your test to make sure that you have answered all questions, not mismarked the answer sheet, or made some other simple mistake.
  • Proofread your writing for spelling, grammar, punctuation, decimal points, etc.
  • Change answers to questions if you originally misread them or if you have encountered information elsewhere in the test that indicates that your first choice is incorrect.