Tips for sitting Tests and Exams

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At the moment a lot of students are facing tests and exams. By now schools are well through the content they need to cover and are starting to revise for end of year assessments. How is your child’s study going? Does your child know their assessment dates? Do they have a study routine?

People often practise the Maths or English content of an exam, but they don’t always think about exam technique. In class, topics are covered one at a time and there is time to work through the questions. In an exam, all of the topics are thrown in together and must be answered under time pressure! So, how can you make the most of them? Here are a few tips.

Top Tips

Read the entire question: So many students get caught by not reading the question in full. Force yourself to read everything twice and underline key words. If you don't underline, you will miss something! An example of this last year was a question in the Numeracy test that asked the students for a bearing a ship would be travelling on if it was travelling South and turned left 90 degrees. Because the convention for Bearings is clockwise, students turned 90 degrees clockwise, which isnot left when travelling south. Almost every student I saw that got that question incorrect, all had the same wrong answer because they had missed what the question was asking.

Marks: Look at how many marks are allocated to a question. This gives you a clue as to how much work is expected. If it is only worth 1 mark and you are stuck, it is not worth spending too much time trying to nut it out. Move on and come back to it.

Time: You are better to spend your time answering the 60% of the questions you can do well, than spending a lot of time struggling with the 20% you find really difficult. There is no rule that says all questions must be answered in a test; or at all for that matter. If you can't answer it immediately, skip it and come back later. I go through every test from beginning to end no less than three (3) times but up to five (5). The first time I do the basic questions, the next time I do the next easiest, and so on. On the final sweep I am checking my work. You never want to run out of time with easy questions left unanswered or rushed.

Units: For Maths, check the units! Do they want cm or m? Hours or minutes?

Tips for Multiple Choice

For multiple choice exams specifically, there are further things you can do to improve your chances:

1. Estimate an answer: Before reading any of the solution options, estimate a reasonable answer. If you read the solutions before thinking about the question, you may be influenced incorrectly.

2. Read all answers: Read all of your options before answering. There may be something you missed and need to rethink.

3. Eliminate incorrect answers: Often there will be some answers that are clearly incorrect. Eliminate those straight away so you are left only with those that are reasonable to choose from.

4. Answer everything: If you don't answer, you will certainly be marked incorrect. If you guess something, you may or may not be incorrect. Don't leave any multi choice question unanswered. Usually your guess will be an educated attempt and you will have eliminated unreasonable answers, so your chance of guessing correctly is actually quite high.

I hope this helps and, as we come into exam season, I wish you the very best. If you have any concerns or would like to discuss things more specifically please don't hesitate to contact me. For senior students, we have a different program in term 4, aimed at preparing them for the exams so please contact me if you haven’t already to book in for these vital final few weeks

Posted on 06/05/2015

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