Testing 101: Tips for Success

With the semester coming to an end, IST and the LAC have assembled some tips and tricks to get you through exam season.

Testing and exams are stressful. Period. They’re also quite inevitable if you’re trying to obtain your degree, diploma or complete a course. But there are also ways to lessen those feelings of panic, dread and unpreparedness. As we continue to learn more about testing environments and methods for success, tips and strategies have emerged on how to improve your testing abilities. These tips extend past getting a good night’s sleep and arriving early, even though those are important too!

With the semester coming to an end, we’ve assembled some tips and tricks to get you through exam season:

Before the test:

  • Try to arrive at the exam location early. This will allow you to take a moment to relax and narrow your focus.
  • Read (or listen) to the test instructions carefully. If you miss anything, or you are unclear on the rules, don’t hesitate to ask for further clarification.

During the test:

  • Answer the questions you know first.
  • If you are stuck on a question, flag it, and return to it later. 
  • Use your time wisely. Finishing a test early will not give you extra points. 
  • Avoid spending too much time on every single question. 
  • Make sure you have answered all the questions before handing in your test. You can’t get marks if you don’t at least try!

When reading a question:

  • Read the entire question before reviewing the response options. This will help your mind process the question more effectively.
  • Pay attention to wording. Although some questions can be worded negatively (e.g., which of the following is not …), our eyes tend to read the question positively.
  • Pay attention to absolute words such as always and never. Response options including these words can be eliminated easily if you can think of a counterexample where always or never would not be true.
  • If the question requires a short-answer response look for instructions in the question regarding how long your answers should be. Most short-answer questions require only a few sentences, instead of a long, essay-like answer. 

When selecting a response option:

  • Read every response option before choosing one.
  • Use the process of elimination. Cross out the response options that you think are incorrect and continue to narrow it down until you have an answer. 
  • Make an educated guess for any question you are unsure of instead of choosing an answer randomly.
  • Do not believe in testing myths like the longest answer is more likely to be correct, or the answer is always “C.”
  • If you are second-guessing, always stick to your first choice answer. Typically the first answer that pops into your mind is usually the correct one.

Good luck on your exams! 

The Learning Assessment Centre provides secure digital testing services that are convenient and comfortable for students, as well as efficient and for instructors. Offering proctored exams at the University of Alberta, the LAC helps to ease stress during exam season. Learn more here!