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Tips for Taking Different Types of Tests: Home

Tips for taking different types of test (problem-solving, machine-scored, computerized, open-book/open-notes, lab, and take-home).

Problem-Solving Tests

These are usually given in the physical and biological sciences, mathematics, engineering, and statistics.

These tests will require you to solve problems showing all steps.

 Always show all work even if you know a shortcut.

Write out each step clearly; line up the equal signs with each other.

 Correct answers are important, but the solution steps are also important.

Check for scientific notation errors.

A misplaced sign, parenthesis, bracket, or exponent can make all the difference.

If using a calculator, check to see if your input is accurate.

Read all directions carefully. 

Are you required to reduce the answer to simplest terms? 

Are you supposed to graph the solution?  

Double check when canceling   terms,   cross-multiplying, distributing terms,   and   combining   fractions. 

Work the problem in  reverse  to check your solution,  or plug your  solution  back  into  the  equation and  make  sure  it adds  up. 

Check to be sure that your solution makes sense.

You cannot have negative  bushels  of  apples, a fraction  of  a  person,  or  a correlation less than negative 1 or greater than 1. 

Laboratory Tests

These are usually given in science, health science, and language courses.

Lab tests are when you rotate from one lab station to the next and solve problems, identify parts of models or specimens, explain chemical reactions, and complete other tasks similar to those that you have been performing in lab.

Some lab tests are now administered at computers via simulations.

To prepare: always attend lab, take good notes, which include diagrams, images, and illustrations, and review your lab notebook. 

Create your own diagrams or models, and then, label them without looking at your book.

Language lab tests may include both oral and written components.

Work with a partner or study group to prepare for oral exams.

Ask questions that require using key vocabulary words. 

Record your answers to work on pronunciation.

You may have to identify syllables or words, and then, indicate the order and direction of the strokes required to create them (e.g. Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, etc.). 

Regularly practice writing each part of the symbols.

Machine-Scored Tests

Carefully follow the directions for machine-scored tests.

Include your name, instructor’s name, course number and section, and student ID number on the answer sheet.

Make sure that the number on the answer sheet corresponds to the number of the item on the test.

When skipping questions, mark the question on the test rather than on the answer sheet.

Stray marks on your answer sheet can be misread and throw off the scoring. 

Open-Book and Open-Note Tests

Open-book and open-note tests are usually harder than in class exams.

You will not have time to look things up during an open-book exam. 

Prepare the same way you would study for a test in which you cannot refer to your notes or text.

Develop a list of topics and the page numbers where they are covered in your text.

Organize your lecture notes, label sections by topic, and number the pages in your notebook.

Create a three-column grid.

First column - list of topics in alphabetical order

Second column - corresponding pages from your textbook

Third column – corresponding pages from your notebook

Stick colored tabs onto your textbook or notebook pages for different topics.

During the test, monitor your time carefully. 

Do not waste time looking up information in your text or notes to double-check yourself if you are confident of your answers. 

Computerized Tests

Your computer literacy level may impact your score when taking computerized tests.

Practice keyboarding skills (typing) and mouse navigation skills.

Some computerized tests may allow scrolling up and down through the entire test.

Some tests will give one question at a time with no skipping permitted.

For computerized tests that require you to solve a problem, check each answer before submitting it.

Know in advance what materials you are allowed to have during the test (calculator, scratch paper, formula sheets, etc.).

Take-Home Tests

Take-home tests are usually more difficult than in-class tests and are often essay tests.

 Allow plenty of time to complete a take-home test.

Read the directions and questions as soon as you receive the test to help you gauge how much time you will need.

It is expected that your essay answers look like assigned out-of-class papers rather than like the essays you would write during an in-class test.

Issues of academic honesty can arise for take-home tests.

Get clarification if collaboration is allowed.