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How to Take a Test

Updated on December 18, 2013
Just imagining this scene brings back bad memories
Just imagining this scene brings back bad memories | Source

How to Take a Multiple Choice Test

Taking a test can be very intimidating, especially when a significant part of your future is on the line. Unfortunately, nothing I have to say will make up for not studying the material and being prepared. However, if you have gone over the test's content, these tips should help you to make better choices on the test itself. Even if you have studied extensively, you will probably find questions that you are unable to answer right off the bat. With a few quick tips though, you can whittle down your options and make a solid guess when taking any multiple choice test. Educated guesses are your new best friend.

Read the All of the Questions & Answers

Make sure that you read all of the question and each of the answer choices. If you don't read the entire question, you could miss a vital piece of information. Also, read all of your choices. Sometimes the first answer will seem correct, but if you read all of your options, you will find that the last choice actually better answers the question. Because of this, make sure you read all of your choices before you pick an answer. If all of the above is an option, this tip is especially important: if more than one answer is correct, then logically, all of the above is the answer.

Skip Hard Questions

Skipping questions can be a very good choice if you encounter ones you are unable to answer easily when taking a test. If you don't feel that you can answer off the top of your head, then it is beneficial to just skip this question for now. Come back if you have time. If you waste valuable time guessing on one challenging question, you could run out of time to answer the three easy questions at the end. This can cost you easy points on tests.


Use Later Questions to Answer Earlier Ones

Sometimes, you will be fortunate in the way the test was constructed. After puzzling over a difficult question, you may find that a later question relies on an answer from before. Knowing this new information, you can go back and change your answer. I don't know how many times I have seen a question that gives away an answer from an earlier question. Watch out for these when taking tests: they are a gift. This will become more and more rare as tests become more difficult, but it is still something to look out for.

Eliminate Choices

Assuming you have plenty of time to spare, you should analyze questions that were skipped earlier. Pay attention to what the question is asking. Any option that doesn't fully answer the question should be crossed out. Don't assume little details about questions unless they are stated. Also, work through each answer. If they are missing crucial details, then cross it out. In addition, the longest answer is often the correct one. If you think about it, it makes sense. The test maker is going to want to ensure that the answer is definitive, so they are going to include more detail. Also, don't second guess yourself. Unless you get a new piece of information, the first option you pick is more likely to be correct than a changed answer. In many cases, your gut feeling is actually correct.


Ration Time

This goes along with skipping questions. Make sure to keep an eye on the clock. Don't let it freak you out, but you need to be aware of how much time is left for you to take the test. Be sure you have enough time to at least go through the test once, even if you skip a few questions along the way. Get the points where you can. If possible though, include some time to look over the questions you couldn't answer quickly but had an idea of what the answer was. This can provide a little boost to your test grade. This is one of the most important test taking skills to develop, as tests at higher levels of education often have a strict time limit. Get used to it and adapt accordingly.

Don't Cheat

This really is a pretty simple thing to avoid, but cheating is very prevalent in school. One thing you should remember when considering cheating is the reason you are in school in the first place. The goal of an education is to provide you with the knowledge to become a good citizen, worker, and family member. If you cheat and avoid learning the information taught, then there is really no reason for you to even be in school. At that point you are wasting resources that could be helping other kids. I believe my government teacher in high school put it best. She explained to my class, of which half was failing, that every American is required to pass a government class to earn a high school diploma or GED. If they weren't willing to put in the effort to learn the material for the tests, then there was no point in being there. The same goes for people who cheat. If you can't understand the topic in a controlled environment, such as a classroom, how will you ever be able to understand and apply it in the real world?

I hope this advice helps you improve your test grades. This is a combination of tips I was told and discovered over the years in grade school. I hope that this helps you to pass whatever tests you take and achieve the results you need. Just remember: doing well in school is a stepping stone to a happy future. It doesn't necessarily define success or failure, but getting a good education now can provide a foundation upon which to build the rest of your life.


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