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  • Writer's pictureGenevieve Savage

Test-Taking Tips and Strategies

With the end of the semester quickly approaching, many students are tirelessly studying for finals. It’s hard to follow mainstream studying tips because testing is different in every class and for every person. Despite the many differences between teachers, classes, and students, there are a few key test-taking tips that students should have in mind in the upcoming week.

Penn State suggests that when a student first receives his/her test, they should immediately skim through and answer the “easy questions'' first. Studies show that while your brain is answering the easy questions, your subconscious is also already working through the harder questions, even if you don’t realize it! Once you’ve answered a few questions you feel confident about, you can tackle complicated questions while feeling accomplished having already completed part of the test.

Visual cues are crucial on paper tests. Make sure to circle or underline important words in prompts and questions - this will help you focus on key concepts and zero in on what the question is asking as you work out the problem.

When you come across difficult questions, try rephrasing them in your own words. Sometimes something as simple as rephrasing can go a long way and aid you in simplifying a seemingly complex problem.

On any subject test, it’s important to ask yourself questions - Did I answer this in the correct format?Did I use the correct formula to get here? Do I show my work? Have I checked my work? Once you’re satisfied you’ve completed the required tasks, move on to the next problem.

Studies have shown that students who study in chronological order of things they’ve learned tend to get lower test scores. Studying in chronological order is an example of a “passive study strategy,” where students rely only on their notes from class and seek no outside resources. Instead, students should try studying their material based on priority. In many cases, studying notes in chronological order prevents students from reviewing recent material.

In any case, remember that grades don’t define you. This week’s agenda is merely a reflection and an opportunity to show what you’ve learned and should in no way be viewed as an indicator of your worth or talent.

Good luck!

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