Taking tests comes easily for some people than for others. Some people enjoy taking tests and exhibiting their knowledge while others dread the process and suffer from test anxiety. Whether your teen is one that thrives and excels in testing situations, or dreads them like having a pimple on prom night, a few strategies can help them feel more confident in the test taking process. When you know what format the test will have, it can help you target your learning process. True/false, multiple choice, short answer, and fill-in-the-blank test formats tend to be more fact recall-based while essay tests require the test taker to analyze the information, using facts to back up the opinions given in the essays. If your teen knows what type of test will be offered, he can focus on the strategies needed to do well.

Short answer and fill-in-the-blank tips and tricks

When the test has a section of either fill-in-the-blank or short answer questions, these can be answered easily if you have a firm grasp on the facts. Work quickly on these and skip any that you are unsure of, marking them to go back later. If you have studied for this test, these types of questions will be a breeze.

1. Pay close attention to key concepts, vocabulary words and relevant facts and put them into your answers. 2. Always do the easiest and most obvious questions first.

3. Don't spend a lot of time on one question. Try and work at a steady pace.

Essay tips and tricks

Your instructor is looking for more than a repetition of facts when an essay is assigned. When writing the answers to an essay question in a test, pay attention to the key words. There are several words that give you hints on what you are supposed to focus on in your answer. These are:

  • Analyze (look for ways to break the question into parts and write about each one)

  • Compare and/or Contrast (look for similarities and/or difference in the topic and present them)

  • Define (give short and exact meaning of the terms)

  • Describe (give as much detail about the term or topic as you can)

  • Discuss (similar to a compare/contrast)

  • Evaluate (asking for your opinion and the reasons why you think this way)

  • Illustrate (give an explanation being clear and concise with your examples to support your position)

  • Outline (give the main ideas of your topic in an essay format)

  • Prove (give support to an idea using learned facts)

  • Summarize (give the bottom line of the material and be concise)

  • As with other types of tests, get your mind flowing by starting with the easiest questions first.

  • Try to make a simple outline of important ideas in the margins of the paper or on the back to keep you on track and organized.

  • Limit your answer to what the question is asking. Trying to impress your teacher with facts that are not relevant will waste time. Essay questions are great to show what you have learned, but this can get out of hand if you try and write everything you know about any topic.

  • Always check your work before handing it in and correct spelling and grammar errors.

Reference: Scoresby, A. L., Ph.D. (1993). Knowledge Gain's twelve effective study strategies. Orem, Utah: Knowledge Gain Publications.

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