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TEST TAKING TIPS Created by Janice Levasseur

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1 TEST TAKING TIPS Created by Janice Levasseur
MSJC ~ San Jacinto Campus Math Center Workshop Series

2 Tests in College You, not the instructor, need to organize the material to prepare for tests Mastery is often seen as the ability to apply what you’ve learned to solve new kinds of problems

3 Your Present Skills To evaluate your present test preparation skills, read each statement carefully and answer True or False. Be honest with yourself to get an accurate assessment.

4 Assessing your present Test Preparation Strategies
See Handout

5 The following statements are TRUE for students who prepare effectively for tests.
2. When studying for an essay test, I try to learn general concepts in addition to specific facts. 5. I try to ask myself probable test questions and answer them when studying for a test. 7. I usually begin reviewing material several days before the date of the exam. 8. When the teacher makes them available, I look through old tests for a course when I begin studying for an exam. 10. I usually try to find out exactly what will be covered on an exam (which textbook chapters, class lectures, homework questions, outside reading, etc.)

6 The following statements are FALSE for students who prepare effectively for tests.
1. I usually read my assignments for the first time just before I am to be tested over the material. 3. I study pretty much the same way for tests, whether the test is essay, multiple-choice, problem-solving, or some other type. 4. I often study late, or even all night, the night before a test. 6. I sometimes find myself memorizing formulas or rules that I don’t really understand, but that I think might appear on a test. 9. It’s usually hard for me to know what to study when the teacher announces that a test will be multiple-choice.

7 Test Anxiety “I always seem to study the wrong things.”
“I stay up late studying and then I’m so tired I can’t remember anything.” “No matter how much I study, I always panic when it is test time.” “My mind goes blank!”

8 Test Anxiety stems from three sources
Poor test preparation and test-taking strategies Psychological pressures Poor health habits

9 Many students experience some form of test anxiety
Anxiety may manifest itself physically and/or mentally Anxiety may be mild or severe

10 Symptoms of Test Anxiety Survey
Physical Symptoms Increased sweating Increased need to urinate Headaches Shakiness Upset stomach Pounding heart Loss of appetite Tightness of muscles

11 More physical symptoms
Stiff neck Backaches Physical fatigue Insomnia Mental fatigue Feelings of inadequacy “free floating” anxiety

12 Mental Symptoms Confusion Disorganization Foggy thinking Blank mind
Freezing up Overwhelming fear Panic Poor concentration Increased errors

13 More mental symptoms Fleeting thought processes Narrowed perceptions
Immobilized creativity Nervous worrying Pervasive negativism Weakened logical thinking Feelings of impending doom Distracting thoughts Poor attention span

14 Anxiety . . . A little bit is good!
A low level of anxiety often results in inadequate motivation and poor performance As anxiety increases to a moderate level, perceptions sharpen; alertness, energy, motivation, and creativity increases and performance reaches optimal levels But if anxiety continues to increase, indecisiveness, carelessness, and poor judgement manifest

15 Anxiety level vs. Performance
level of anxiety Keep you anxiety within a moderate manageable level for optimum performance by: Reversing any negative self-talk Use relaxation techniques (breathing) Practice visualizing success

16 Before the Exam The best way to deal with test anxiety is to prepare well for each test The more confident you are, the calmer you will be Preparation for your first test should begin the first day of class!

17 Preparation for your first test should begin the first day of class!
Keep up with and complete the class homework assignments Review lecture notes and returned homework assignments on a regular basis Create a “chapter summary” at the conclusion of each chapter, summarizing the definitions, key points, formulas, processes, etc. Be aware of the date of the first exam and all subsequent exams

18 The “Magic of Now” Improves Memory
German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghouse researched the rate of forgetting and found: After 20 minutes, nearly 50% of what had been learned was forgotten After 1 day, nearly 66% lost After 2 days, 69% lost After 15 days, 75% lost After 31 days, 78% lost

19 H.F. Spitzer’s study on retention
Showed that students who reviewed the material immediately after learning and then did periodic reviews were able to retain almost 80% of the material after 2 months!

20 Studying for an Exam Be aware of the exam date!
Be sure to be in class for the exam review Format of the exam? How many questions? Type? Point per question? Materials allowed? Time allowed?

21 Start studying early (don’t cram) to internalize and understand
Review HW, Quizzes, in class worksheets, exam review, old exams from the teacher to identify “important” topics Do practice problems Create a “cheat sheet” (one that you could possibly take into the exam to use!)

22 Take a practice test – if you stumble on a type of question, go back and study that topic (spend your time studying the topics that are the hardest for you!) Study in blocks – an hour or so of study followed by a ten-minute break Complete your final review for the test Get plenty of rest the night before (at least 8 hours. You need to be rested to think clearly!)

23 The Day of the Exam Set not only one alarm but a “back up”
Eat breakfast Dress appropriately Be sure to bring everything you need to the exam (calculator, paper, pencil, cheat sheet if allowed) Arrive early so you are not rushed or flustered

24 When you get your exam, do a brain dump (create an “instant cheat sheet”)
Look over the entire exam so you know how to pace yourself Start at the beginning (do the easiest problems to get your brain warmed up) Read each problem thoroughly and be sure you can identify clearly what is being asked

25 Don’t spend too much time on one problem
Don’t spend too much time on one problem. Mark it and return later – keep progressing! Remain calm, focused, and positive (remember, you ARE prepared) Remember partial credit – show your work Use the whole time (recheck, proofread) BREATHE! After leaving the exam, reward yourself for having completed the exam.

26 After the Exam Be in class for the exam review
After receiving your exam back, look it over immediately Redo any question missed. If you don’t understand your error, see the instructor or a tutor Don’t throw away your exam – use it later to study for the final!

27 Test Preparation Progress Check
The following questions will give you a chance to see what you’ve learned. . . When is the best time to do your reading assignments? All at once, just before the test When they are discussed in class All at once, at the beginning of the term

28 What topics should you spend most time on when studying for a test?
All topic equally Most time on the topics that are the easiest for you Most time on the topics that are hardest for you

29 What is usually the most efficient length for blocks of study time?
15 minutes study with a 5-minute break after each study block One hour study with a 10-minute break after each study block 3 – 4 hours with no breaks

30 Should you look over last year’s tests in a course when possible
Should you look over last year’s tests in a course when possible? Why or why not? Yes, the teacher will probably use many of the questions again No, you should spend your time studying your text and your class notes Yes, you can learn what kinds of questions the teacher asks and what topics he/she thinks are important

31 When, if ever, should you review test papers that are returned to you?
Immediately, to learn what gave you trouble on the test Just before the next test, to get you in the “right mindset” Never, reviewing your mistakes is likely to cause test anxiety

32 When should you complete your final review for a test?
The night before the test Just before the test begins At least three days before the test

33 Progress Check Answers
-- B, when they are discussed -- C, most time on the topics that are the hardest for you -- B, one hour study with a 10-minute break after each study block -- C, yes, you can learn what kinds of questions the teacher asks and what topics he/she thinks is important -- A, immediately, to learn what gave you trouble on the test -- A, the night before the test

34 You Can Do It! Prepare Believe Achieve!

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