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Effective test taking skills are an important part of achieving overall academic success. College exam questions may be objective, essay, or problem-solution style. Some courses even combine different types of questions on the same exam. Here are some ideas for successfully preparing for and managing each type of exam question:
Multiple-choice, true/false, and matching questions are all example objective test formats. There are many different styles of questions but in each case there is only one correct answer.
To prepare effectively it is vital to focus on mastery of the information and details covered in lecture and in the textbook. When you study it is vital to avoid rereading or looking over notes and text - rewrite or recite information. Concentrate on terms, lists, links from one concept to another and then reword and rework information to personalize it - think of your own examples.
Essay questions can range from broad and open-ended to specific and focused. Some faculty provide the questions ahead of time so you can prepare, others may give you a choice of questions on the actual exam. In every case they require organizing and writing a well framed response.
To prepare effectively it helps to analyze course content and look for broader ideas that cross a number of specific class sessions. Look at course objectives or chapter titles and headings to find broader themes. Predict questions if they are not already provided. Practice answering by actually writing out a response. Get your ideas down to a key word outline to help you remember what you want to say.
Math, accounting, & physics problems, circuit analysis, and chemical equations are all examples of problem-solution format questions. In each case you must analyze the problem, decide on the appropriate approach to get to a solution, and then follow through with application of that process. Often you have to show your work.
To prepare effectively, practice is essential. Courses that incorporate problem-solution exams typically include regular homework assignments. It is vital to do that work whether it is collected and graded or not. Review of concepts from your notes or textbook is not enough. Working and reworking all possible problem types beyond the point of mastery is the key to success.
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