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In order to test well during finals week, use certain strategies that heighten performance on exam

With final exams approaching, it might be appropriate to review the art of test taking.

Obviously, the beginning phase of test preparation is an adequate understanding of the material. It’s also essential to understand the scope of the test [i.e. what is being tested].

If it’s not clear, ask the instructor.

The subject material must be understood, not merely as a disjointed collection of isolated facts, but with an appreciation of the relationship of these facts to each other. Student-prepared outlines, flowcharts and other graphic representations can be invaluable study aids.

When actually sitting for the exam, it’s important to be at the appointed place on the appointed date and time. Some exams are administered at different times, dates or venues from the normal classes.

It’s the student’s responsibility to follow these directions.

Being early helps the student become accustomed to the new surroundings and permits the student to take advantage of the full test period.

Read the requirements for each question carefully and be certain that they are completely understood. For narrative questions [story problems], the requirements often appear at the end of the set of facts. After first reading the requirements, return to the beginning of the question and read it carefully.

Quite often, facts or items will be found that are irrelevant to its solution. By reading the requirements first, the mind [hopefully prepared in advance by adequate study and rest] will subconsciously sort through the facts and separate the important from the unnecessary, thus saving time.

Time should be budgeted in two ways. First, allocate the final ten percent of the exam period to review. Second, allocate a set amount of the remaining 90 percent of the test time to each problem.

A good method is assigning time to each question based on the relationship of its points to the total number of points for the entire test.

For essay exams, it’s important to be concise. Remember, someone must read and evaluate your breathless prose.

Use a paragraph to cover only one topic and ensure that the first sentence of each paragraph [the topic sentence] summarizes or leads into what will follow.

In some cases, a key-word outline is useful with essay exams. A separate listing of words and phrases, organized and prioritized prior to beginning the essay, will help organize the student’s thoughts, thus saving time.

For problems requiring computations, especially if partial credit is available, a well-labeled computation sheet is essential. Every quantity should be labeled, including those given in the problem.

The computation should follow smoothly and sequentially from one stage to another. Math symbols [+, -, x, /, etc.] should be used at each step.

The solution should be verified and tested for reasonableness. Fifteen percent of 150 is neither 225 nor 2.25.

Never be the first to turn in an exam. The last 10 percent of the allotted time period should be devoted to reviewing essays, verifying computations, checking spelling and punctuation and ensuring that the question has been clearly and completely answered.

Finally, when the exam is completed, forget about it. You’ve done all you can [or should] do. Go on to the next task.

Good luck.

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