Test Taking Tips

  • Read the instructions and be sure you understand them.
  • Answer the easy questions first and then go back to the more difficult questions.
  • Write legibly.

Objective Tests

Students outside
  • The answers are clearly right or wrong.
  • Look for the qualifiers in the sentence. Qualifiers are such words as: all, most, some, no, never, least, always, equal, maximum, greatest, not, less, mainly, highest, lowest, most nearly, best, etc. These are the keys to a sentence. Sometimes, substituting one of these words in a sentence will help clarify it.
  • For matching questions, read all the items to be matched to get an idea of the range of possibilities.
  • Fill-in-the-blank questions are more objective than subjective because the professor generally has something specific in mind, so try to fill in the answer that really belongs.
  • Always keep in mind that the context of a question relates to that specific course.
  • Be slow to change an answer because your first impulses are usually correct.

Essay Tests

On an essay examination, you may be asked to outline, review, describe, discuss, explain, summarize, or trace the events leading up to a specific incident. In order to succeed on essay exams, you should understand the meanings of these terms.

  • Analyze – Examine the various parts of or the basic nature of something, such as feelings or one aspect of a situation—for example, its potential for violence.
  • Compare – Give resemblances or similarities-points that are alike.
  • Contrast – Give differences.
  • Criticize – Judge the value of something.
  • Define – State the exact meaning; often, give the general class to which the thing belongs and then its special qualities. (“A dictionary is a book that gives definitions of words.”)
  • Describe – Give an account of the appearance of something or of a process or an event.
  • Diagram – Make a drawing or sketch, adding labels if necessary.
  • Discuss – Look at both sides of a question.
  • Enumerate – List.
  • Evaluate – Tell what’s good or bad about an object, event, or process.
  • Identify – Tell who or what is referred to, often adding when or where.
  • Illustrate – Give examples, real or imaginary; in an art course, draw a picture.
  • Justify – Show the reasons why something was done.
  • Outline – Present a clear organized answer including main points and supporting material.
  • Prove – Show that something is true by presenting factual or experimental evidence or by logic.
  • Review – Give an account of something in an organized way; similar to outline.
  • State – Give the facts or main points clearly and briefly; sometimes means list.
  • Summarize – Present in short form the facts or events and the main supporting information; similar to outline and review.
  • Trace – Briefly, give the main sequence of events or facts, in time order; it usually concerns the development of a trend or seeks to emphasize a series of events leading up to one major event