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Test Preparation Tips


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Tips for Parents and Students

Most students don't enjoy tests or exams, but they aren't so bad when students prepare well.
Here are some study steps to follow.


  • Brainstorm about possible test topics.  Pay special attention to handouts from teachers.

  • Take a practice test.  Write down questions that could be on the test.

  • Make flash cards with questions on index cards. Put the answers on the back.

  • Make a plan. Schedule time to prepare for the test over several days. Review several times.
    Study over a few days-NOT ALL IN ONE NIGHT. You might brainstorm on the first day, take a
    practice test on the second day and review the third day. It's better to study things repeatedly
    over time than to cram before a test.

  • Get enough rest.  The next morning, have a nutritious breakfast.
    Take a few deep breaths and think, "I'm prepared. I'll do fine!"


  • Encourage your child to review class notes.

  • Have your child answer each one. Study until they can be answered confidently.
    You might even set a timer so that the practice test feels more realistic.

  • Use the cards your child created to quiz your child.

  • Congratulate your child on how prepared they are.

Essay tests provide an opportunity to show your knowledge using a less structured format. These types of tests can be difficult for many students, particularly those with less advanced writing skills. The following are some general strategies for successfully answering essay questions.

  • Read over the question thoroughly before you begin writing. Underline each component that you are expected to address in the essay so that you don’t leave anything out. 
  • Jot ideas down on scratch paper or on the back of the paper before you begin writing. Outline your response. Outlining may seem like it takes too much time, but it helps your response be organized and will help you stay on track as you write. If you have some idea of what the questions will be prior to the test, make an outline while you are studying with all the key components. 
  • If there are multiple questions to answer, choose the easiest one first. This builds your confidence and will ensure that you get points for information you know well. 
  • Read the directions carefully. Be on the lookout for important information such as: 
    • Where are you to write your answers (lined paper, blue book, on the test)? 
    • How are you to write your answers (one side of paper only, within a limited space or number of lines, in list format or full sentences)? 
    • Are there a certain number of ideas you need to include?
    • Are you supposed to include examples? 
  • Use your best penmanship. Graders can get frustrated if they can’t read your writing. 
  • Each paragraph you write should have a general summary sentence and at least two-three supporting sentences. Your ending should not include new information, but should be something like a summary- what was said, interpretations or personal opinions if it’s appropriate for the question. 
  • Even if you are unsure of an answer, write something. Instructors often give partial credit for being on the right track or having part of the answer correct. 
  • After you have finished all of the questions, go back and see if you can add anything to any of your essays.

Source: Arizona Parent and Educational Resource Center.

Objective tests include such things as multiple choice, true/false, fill-in-the-blank, and matching. The following suggestions are primarily designed to help you with multiple choice and true/false questions. However, many of the tips found here will help with all types of questions.

  • Look for the main idea of the question. What is the author looking for? 
  • Be on the lookout for key words like “none”, “never”, “always”, “except”, “most”, or “least”. When you see these words, circle them so that you remember how to best answer the question. 
  • On multiple-choice tests, try to answer the question before looking at the answers. Then look at your choices and see if any of the answers match what you were thinking. 
  • Don’t over-interpret test questions. Sometimes the obvious answer is just that! 
  • If you are unsure of an answer on a multiple-choice item, eliminate as many wrong choices as you can. This improves your odds of getting the answer right. 
  • Once you’ve made your selection, don’t change it unless you’re sure that the alternate response is correct. However, you may find it helpful to circle items that you are unsure of so that you can go back and double check your answer after you have completed the entire test. 
  • On multiple-choice questions, cross off answers that are only partially correct, that you know are not correct, or do not answer the question. If you know one of the answers is not true, you can eliminate an “all of the above” choice as well. 
  • Sometimes clues are available in other test questions. For instance, two questions on the same general topic, when read one right after the other, may give you information that will help you answer both. 
  • Look for clues within multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank questions. For example, the verb tense (past, present, or future) and singular versus plural words should match between the question and the answer. 
  • When you need to put your answer on a separate sheet of paper, such as scantron sheets for multiple choice tests, double check often that the number you are answering corresponds with the number you are filling in on the answer sheet. 
  • Be careful with questions involving “all of the above” and “none of the above”. If you are sure that at least two of the choices are correct, then you may be safe in choosing “all of the above”. Likewise, if you are certain that at least one answer is correct, you can eliminate “none of the above”.

Source: Arizona Parent and Educational Resource Center.


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