Writing the Test
1. The first thing you need to do is to gather up all the tools you will need for the test. For all exams that are not being written online you will need a pen and/or perhaps a pencil. Anything else you need will depend upon your subject and any instructions you were given by your instructor or school before the test. You may need items such as a calculator, a ruler, colored pencils, erasers, book(s), or math sets. If you have made a list of everything you need, be sure to check before you sit down at the computer to begin, to make sure you have all the articles with you. You do not want to be in a panic trying to find an item you forgot so that you have to search around your house to find it during the test.
2. If you are writing the test with a proctor in a library or school, then leave early to go there so that you aren’t late because of a traffic jam or other delay which will make you feel flustered.
3. Sit down at the computer for a few minutes and do some relaxation exercises such as deep breathing or meditation.
4. Read and/or listen to all the instructions that are given about the exam. Do not assume that you know what the instructions say. Some of these instructions give you clues about how to answer questions – for example whether to guess at answers on a multiple choice section. If wrong answers are subtracted from your points, then you might not want to guess if you are not sure of the answer. On the other hand if there is no penalty for guessing, then it will be worth your while to attempt to answer every question.
5. Except for multiple choice exams, read over the whole test paying attention to marks awarded for each question. You will want to spend more time on the questions worth more marks.
6. Do the questions that you can answer easily first because it will boost your confidence and reduce your stress level. This is the best strategy to use if your mind goes blank when you look at the paper. I used to look at my exams and panic thinking that I did not know one single answer on the whole test. However, I would then look for something that I could begin to answer and once concentrating on that, my stress would dissipate and I could then carry on with the rest of the exam.
7. Read the questions carefully paying attention to cue words and phrases that will help you answer. Read them more than once if necessary.
8. Think about how you are going to answer before you start writing. Keep moving along even if you have to skip questions. Come back to the skipped questions afterward and try to answer them even if you don’t know the answer for sure. You may get partial points for a partially correct answer.
9. Proofread your answers checking for spelling and grammar mistakes or just a wrong impression of what you really wanted to say. I have never been a great typist so I always had to check my typed work when I wrote online tests.
Staying calm and thoughtful by following these suggestions can help you to write a better exam and therefore receive a better score on the test. Good Luck!
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This content was written by Elizabeth Stuttard. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Dr. Patricia Pedraza-Nafziger for details.