Set a realistic
study schedule and begin studying early
... Short study sessions spread out over time are more efficient and
effective than a single period of condensed study. Also, begin your
study sessions with a quick review of the material you've previously
studied, so that this previous material stays fresh even though you
studied it in detail weeks before the test. If you learn a little each
day and allow plenty of time for repeated reviews, you will enhance
your long-term memory. Avoid the temptation to cram for tests; your
short-term memory hasn't enough space for all that you need to know.
Identify what concepts
are most important
... Set priorities and study the most important concepts
Try to identify the content
of the questions you will be asked
... Anticipate test questions. Ask yourself: "If I were making up this
test, I would probably ask...", and then answer these questions.
Also, time permitting, try writing some multiple-choice test questions;
guidelines and examples are provided in Composing Multiple-Choice
Do not simply memorize
... You will have to go beyond straight memorization. Concentrate
on understanding the material taught; compare it, contrast it, and interpret
its meaning. Focus on understanding the ideas and concepts in the course
which knit the facts and details together. You must be more than familiar
with the material; you must be able to write it down, talk about it,
analyse it, and apply it. If there are graphs, tables, or figures on
the test you will be asked to interpret data.
... For each major concept, integrate information from your lecture
notes, the lecture presentations, text in the printed guide, and required
readings onto a summary sheet by diagramming, charting, outlining, categorizing
in tables, or writing paragraph summaries of the information. Your studying
should also focus on defining, explaining, and applying terms.
Study with other well-prepared
... These study sessions will give you the opportunity to
ask questions and further your understanding of the course material.
Review past tests...
... to experience the style of questions that have been
asked in the past, as an indication of what you might expect, and to
determine the level of thinking required (recognition, synthesis, analysis,
application) and the degree of difference between incorrect and correct
responses. But don't spend too much time on this. Your time is better
spent mastering the present material. (Also, see Examples
of Styles of Test Questions Commonly Used in BIO150Y.)
Be prepared emotionally and physically, as well as intellectually
... Be prepared to do your best. Prepare your brain for optimum performance
by keeping your physical resources well maintained. Get a good night's
rest before the test. Eat well balanced meals; avoid fasting and do
not take stimulants you are not accustomed to (e.g., coffee, soft drinks,
chocolate). And keep up with your regular exercise.
Stay away from others
right before the test
... Anxiety is highly contagious. It is best to focus on
what you know rather than on what you don't know. Reinforce your strengths
and confine your weaknesses. For this reason it is also best not to
study new material the night before a test.
Arrive at the test room
... Give yourself enough time to select a seat and calm
down before the test papers are distributed. Select a seat where the
lighting is best (frequently near the front of the room) and where your
view of other students will be minimized. Remember to bring your student
card and more than one HB pencil. Dress warmly and comfortably (and
in layers, so you can put on your sweater if you're cold).
Don't expect to know
... It is highly unlikely that any student will answer all questions
correctly. Remember that a grade of 75% on a test, which is evidence
of a good grasp of the subject matter, means that 25% of the questions
were answered incorrectly. So, don't panic if you see a question you
did not anticipate or prepare for. Use everything you know about the
content of the course and your own reasoning ability to analyse the
question and identify a logical answer.
Preview the test
... Preview the whole test before beginning to answer any questions.
Make sure your copy has no missing or duplicate pages. Read the directions
Start with questions
you can readily answer...
... to build your confidence and to save time for the harder
ones. When you identify a correct response carefully mark this on the
question paper. If you are unable to make a choice and need to spend
more time with the question, or you answered the question but are not
at all sure that you made the correct choice, put a big question mark
beside that question, and move on to the next. Avoid getting bogged
down on one question part of the way through the exam. It is much better
to move on and finish all of those questions that you can answer and
then to come back later to process the problematic questions. Sometimes
the answer will occur to you simply because you are more relaxed after
having answered other questions.
Plan your time and pace
... Allocate your time. For example, for a 90-minute test
with 50 questions plan to spend about 1 to 2 minutes per question (as
all test questions in BIO150Y are equally weighted). If you cannot answer
a question within this time, skip it and come back to it later. Set
progress points at the beginning of the test and use them to monitor
your progress, such as, know what question you should be answering at
the 30-minute mark.
Allocate time to review
... and to transfer your answers to the computer sheet.
It is best to transfer all responses to the answer sheet at the same
time once you have answered all questions on your question paper (thus
reducing the probability of making a mistake). Note however that you
will not be given additional time at the end of the test to transfer
Read each question carefully
... Multiple-choice tests also examine your ability to read carefully
and thoughtfully, as much as they test your ability to recall and reason.
- Identify key words
Circle or underline key words, such as "all," "always,"
"never," "none," "not," "few," "many," some," and "sometimes."
- Identify subject area
Identifying what lecture, reading, or laboratory exercise
the question is from might help you narrow the choice of possible
responses. (On many tests the questions are scrambled and do not follow
the order that topics were presented in lectures or labs.)
- Identify what is being
Answer each question as the professor intended, that is,
within the context of the course material that was taught.
- The "cover up" strategy
Some students find it helpful to read the question and
try to recall the answer from memory before looking at each of the
- The "true/false" strategy
Identify if the question is looking for a true or false
statement. Then label each of the five responses as "true" or "false"
and eliminate those that do not correctly complete the question.
Read each of the five
... and don't just stop when you come upon the one that seems
- Don't select a response just because you remember learning the information
in the course; it may be a "true" statement in its own right, but
not the correct answer to the question.
- Don't dismiss a response because it seems too obvious and simple
an answer; if you are well prepared for the test, some of the questions
may appear very straight forward.
- Don't be persuaded by fancy terms in the question; don't say to
yourself, "That sounds impressive, so it must be the right answer."
- As you read through the possible responses, mark off the ones you
know are wrong. This will save time if you have to come back to the
Should I change an answer?
Change answers only if you have a good reason for doing so. (Changing
your answer from response "b" because you selected "b" to the previous
two questions is not a good reason.) The origin of the myth that students
most often change correct answers to wrong answers is probably that
it is the wrong answers that students remember most when reviewing the
test (for you are less likely to remember the answers you changed from
"wrong" to "right").
If two responses appear
to be equally correct...
... eliminate the response that appears to be least related to the question
being asked. Remember, you are looking for the best answer, not only
a correct one. Some responses may be correct but are not directly related
to the question.
If you are not certain
of an answer, guess...
... as there is no penalty for wrong answers. Eliminate the responses
you know are incorrect. Narrow down your selection to two responses
and then compare them and identify how they differ. Finally, make an