Academic Resources

Many students struggle with studying and or test taking. Here we have provided some suggestions for studying and improving test taking skills. Not everything will work for every student, but try some out and figure out which ones work for you.

These tips and more can be found at www.onlinemastersdegree.com.

Study Tips

Actively listen in class. Most teachers give clues about what will be on a test. These include catchphrases like: “write down the following;” “in summary;” “let me emphasize” and “this will be on the test.”

Write down important information and edit the information for clarity. Study holistically. Get a well-rounded picture of what your material is and how to retain it, how to apply it. Figure out a way to apply what you know to real life. Hands-on experience, even in literature by acting it out, or reading aloud, can help you remember. Rehearse passages with friends and family or in the mirror.

If you must test by regurgitating material, use traditional memorization techniques: acronyms, nonsense sentences, chunking information and word association to help your recall.

Graphic organizers like Venn and cycle diagrams can help you remember by giving your visual aids. Many of us are visual learners. Create flowcharts, cause and effect boxes, draw pictures, maps, charts, or create mental images and associate them with the material.

Figure out what needs to be subjectively learned and what needs to be objectively learned. Objective learning is learning facts—unbiased material like science, it’s rational. Subjective learning asks for your opinion about something, your interpretation of the material.

Test Taking Tips

Eat well to supply your brain and body with needed nutrients. Eat rather fruits and vegetables. Noted “brain foods” include: apples and grapes, which are serotonin-rich and have a calming effect on the nerves and anxiety. Healthy carbohydrates, such as whole grains and vegetables provide glucose for your brain, keeping it sharp and alert.

Make sure that you have all the necessary supplies for your test. Bring several sharpened pencils, erasers, pens, dictionaries, thesauruses, protractors, and calculators, whatever you need. Going into a test unprepared builds unnecessary anxiety.

Find and complete sample tests. If no sample tests are available, create one based on information that you know the teacher stressed in class. If anything, make an outline, flowchart or simple notes. Doing this ahead of time allows you plenty of opportunity to address your teacher with pertinent questions before testing occurs.

Read directions carefully. Re-read directions through the testing process if possible, especially multi-step directions.

Read through your test before you ever start taking it. Note questions that will take a lot of thought or work to complete and ones that you know right off the bat. Work the easiest questions or essays first. A common mistake is not answering every question—leave none blank.

Ask questions during the exam, if allowed. The only ignorant question is the one not asked.

If you don’t understand what a question is asking, or if you have a longer passage to read and understand, identify key words. Write them down. Key words can help you rephrase questions or passages that are difficult to understand.

Jot down a mini-outline next to the question to help organize your thoughts before writing. It’s especially important before essays. Your time is limited, but it is no excuse not to write neatly. Unintelligible handwriting means that you may lose points, even if you know that what you are writing about is correct. Remember, if you can’t read your own writing, the person grading your test won’t be able to decipher it, either.

Don’t fall under the impression that the students finishing early have finished testing correctly. Use all the time given to you. Go back and re-read your questions and answers. Don’t second-guess yourself, just make sure that your writing is neat and that you are concise.

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