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Testing Smart -- Matching Questions Tips On Exams

Updated on January 18, 2012

Matching questions are those ones most students grow up from early childhood being so familiar with. They are a popular measure for teachers to gauge if students are understanding basic concepts and terms in any subject.

These are the questions that ask the student to match the terms on one list with the terms on another list.

Question | Source

The following tips will help you get through these types of questions with ease:

  1. As with any test, make sure you understand the directions, as occasionally these types of questions will allow an answer to be used only once, or more than once.
  2. Always work from the column with the longest sentence phrases. This may seem strange, but it saves time because you are look at each long phrase only once, as you scan the column with the short word phrases for the match.
  3. Always move through the matches quickly by starting with the matches that you know instantly. Remember, that if you can use an answer only once, you might have to change an answer if you have any second thoughts -- so mark them lightly with a pencil until you are completely done.
  4. Make a second pass through the matches, mark the matches you are absolutely sure of with a darker penciled line.
  5. Look for clues or relationships in the matches you aren't 100% sure of that you didn't think of the first time you connected them.
  6. Think back on your textbook, readings, and lectures to come up with the correct answer.
  7. Give first priority to the unused choices.

What To Do If One Of Your Matches Seems Wrong

It's important to think about the possibility that one of your previously 100% sure answers might have been a wrong choice.

Additionally, if one or more phrases seem to have no right answer, then you may need to re-think some of them.

Look for another phrase that can be used instead of your first choice. This will allow an answer for use in another match that perhaps you did not consider at first.

What Good Students Know!

Since there aren't a lot of secrets about doing well on matching questions, perhaps now might be a good time to think about what a good student knows. In part, to me it's all about learning from your past test mistakes.

If you think about it, the purpose of any test or exam is to see how much you know, and isn't just about getting a certain grade. Making mistakes, or even failing a test -- is human and sooner or later will happen even to the smartest, most prepared, and best student.

When you get a grade less than you expected of yourself on an exam, rather than feeling bad about yourself or ignoring the mistakes you made, examine them. Learn from them just like you'd learn from anything else in life, like relationships, for example. Sometimes we all don't make good choices, that's how we learn.

If you take the time to work through an exam that you failed or didn't perform up to satisfaction on -- even though it doesn't do anything to change your grade -- it'll help you avoid making the same mistakes on future tests and strengthen your knowledge base in the subject.

Build Success From Past Failures

The following strategies can help you learn from your past mistakes and get better grades:

  1. Watch out for careless errors -- Sometimes you rush through an exam, afraid that you will run out of time and you misread the questions, or even worse -- the directions. Maybe you blackened the wrong box on an answer sheet, or skipped a question or two. Or, perhaps in your hurry to get the exam over with, you forgot to write legibly.
  2. Ask for a Re-do -- Be aware that very often an instructor will allow you to rewrite an essay exam, rework a math problem from the original question, and improve your grade. The worst they are going to say is no.
  3. Ask for extra credit work -- Another option is to ask for extra credit work to make up for a poor performance on a key exam.
  4. Review your mistakes -- after an exam fill in your knowledge gaps. Sometimes you get a problem wrong because you didn't know, or didn't understand the subject. Develop a plan to learn the material on your own. If you are wondering why you would do this? Doing so, will help you do better on future exams and all knowledge bases are cumulative whether you realize it or not.
  5. Privately talk to your teacher -- you can learn a lot that will prevent you from making the same mistakes over again just by simply and respectfully asking your instructor for an explanation of your grade or comments. Use this as a time to find out how you can do better next time.
  6. Save your failed tests -- Now, this may seem like a bad thing, keeping a reminder of an unpleasant event, but actually it isn't. Think of it instead, as a reminder that all students at one time or another have been in your shoes, and that you always have room to improve if you have the will to succeed.


Above All Keep Your Sense Of Humor -- Mr. Bean Taking Exam

Master The Sine Qua Non Of Exam Taking

Any serious student has worked hard to learn the material presented to them. Chances are they've studied, reviewed, and memorized everything they can. The goal is to be well prepared for exams of all kinds. So here's where sine qua non comes into the reality of test taking:

Before you say, "Huh?"

Sine qua non is a Latin term (pronounced sih-ay kwa nahn) and it means "without which not." To make that simple -- a sine qua non -- is the ultimate in "an absolutely essential thing."

So in the simplest terms -- the sine qua non of test taking is taking the knowledge you have and transforming test taking from a scary and intimidating event -- into an opportunity to demonstrate both to yourself and the rest of the world -- your mastery of a subject. It's an opportunity for building confidence and success for the rest of your life.

One Educator's View of 12 Things He Wish His Students Knew


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      good to do this.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      8 years ago from United States

      Thanks Philipo!

    • Philipo profile image


      9 years ago from Nigeria

      Very educative and informative. Thanks.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Nancy's Niche! Thanks.

    • profile image

      Nancy's Niche 

      9 years ago

      Good topic with videos to support it...Great little cheat sheet…Thanks for sharing...

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks Triplet Mom! It's never too late. By the time you get to my age you realize that all of life is one big test of one kind or another.

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 

      9 years ago from West Coast

      Wow this is great information. I was and still am a horrible test taker. I wish I had some of these tips before.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks Aya! Sounds like some of the teachers we've encountered, really makes you wonder. She should have been congratulating Sword on being smart enough to find the extra one.

      Thanks jayb23! I'm thinking kids today need all the help they can get.

    • jayb23 profile image


      9 years ago from India

      Awesome hub Jerilee. A sense of deja vu happened when I was reading this hub. Must read for all the kids. Keep up the good work.

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 

      9 years ago from The Ozarks

      Jerilee, another very useful hub. I think one way of looking at matching tests is to create a mental model of the person who wrote the test. What does that person know about the subject matter? What might you know that that person doesn't know? Use this information in choosing an answer to matching tests when something you were 100% sure about leaves you with a result that doesn't match.

      Sword is pretty good at spelling. She was once counted off because she was asked to find seven misspelled words in a paragraph. She found seven, but not the seven that the teacher intended, because there were eight!

      After I talked to the teacher, she restored the point Sword lost, but she gave Sword a warning. Next time, when looking for misspelled words, limit yourself to this week's spelling list!

      So the moral of the story is, find the misspelled words that the person who wrote the test knows how to spell!

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks R Burow!

    • R Burow profile image

      R Burow 

      9 years ago from Florida, United States


      This is excellent material. Thanks for compiling the information and writing this hub. I find it very helpful.


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