The 10 Steps to Better Test Taking
Once you begin a test, follow the 10 steps to better test taking below:
Step 1  Use a memory data dump. Upon receiving your test, turn it over and write
down the information that you put on your mental cheat sheet. Your mental cheat
sheet has now turned into a mental list and writing down this information is not
cheating. Do not put your name on it, do not skim it, just turn it over and
write down those facts, figures and formulas from your mental cheat sheet or
other information you might not remember during the test. This is called your
first memory data dump. The data dump provides memory cues for test questions.
Example: It might take you a while to remember how to do a coin word problem.
However, if you had immediately turn your test over and written down different
ways of solving coinword problems it would be easier to solve the coinword
problem.
Step 2  Preview the test. Put your name on the test and start previewing.
Previewing the test requires you to look through the entire test to find
different types of problems and their point values. Put a mark by the questions
that you can do without thinking. These are the questions that you will solve
first.
Step 3  Do a second memory data dump. The secondary data dump is for
writing down material that was jarred from your memory while previewing the
test. Write this information on the back of the test.
Step 4  Develop a test
progress schedule. When you begin setting up a test schedule, determine the
point value for each question. You might have some test questions that are worth
more points than others.
In some tests, word problems are worth five points and other questions might be
worth two or three points. You must decide the best way to get the most points
in the least amount of time. This might mean working the questions worth two to
three points first and leaving the more difficult word problems for last.
Decide how many problems should be completed half way though the test. You
should have more than half the problems completed by that time.
Step 5  Answer the easiest problems first Solve, in order, the problems you
marked while previewing the test. Then, review the answers to see if they make
sense. Start working through the test as fast as you can while being accurate.
Answers should be reasonable.
Example: The answer to a . problem of ' to find the area of a rectangle e cannot
be negative, and the try
answer to a landratedistance problem cannot be 1,000 miles per hour.
Clearly write down each step to get partial credit, even if you end up missing
the problem. In most math tests, the easier problems are near the beginning of
the first page; you need to answer them efficiently and quickly. This will give
you both more time for the harder problems and time to review.
Step 6  Skip difficult problems. If you find a problem that you do not know how
to work, read it twice and automatically skip it. Reading it twice will help you
understand the problem and put it into your working memory. While you are
solving other problems, your mind is still working on that problem. Difficult
problems could be the type of problem you have never seen before or a problem in
which you get stuck on the second or third step. In either case, skip the
problem and go on to the next one.
Step 7  Review the skipped problems. When working the skipped problems, think
how you have solved other, similar problems as a cue to solving the skipped
ones. Also, try to remember how the instructor solved that type of problem on
the board.
While reviewing skipped problems, or at any other time, you may have the "Ah,
ha!" response. The "Ah, ha!" response is your remembering how to do a skipped
problem. Do not wait to finish your current problem. Go to the problem on which
you had the "Ah ha" and finish that problem. If you wait to finish your current
problem, your "Ah, ha!" response could turn into an "Oh, no!" response.
Step 8  Guess at the remaining problems Do as much work as you can on each
problem, even if it is just writing down the first step. If you cannot write
down the first step, rewrite the problem. Sometimes rewriting the problem can
jar your memory enough to do the first step or the entire problem. If you leave
the problem blank, you will get a zero. Do not waste too much time on guessing
or trying to work the problems you cannot do.
Step 9  Review the test. Look for careless errors or other errors you may have
made. Students usually lose two to five test points on errors that could have
been caught in review. Do not talk yourself out of an answer just because it may
not look right. This often happens when an answer does not come out even. It is
possible for the answer to be a fraction or decimal.
Remember: Answers in math do not have "dress codes." Research reveals that the
odds of changing a right answer to a wrong answer are greater than the odds of
changing a wrong answer to a right one.
Step 10  Use all the allowed test time.
Review each problem by substituting the answer back into the equation or doing
the opposite function required to answer the question. If you cannot check the
problem by the two ways mentioned, rework the problem on a separate sheet of
paper and compare the answers. Do not leave the test room unless you have
reviewed each problem two times or until the bell rings.
Remember: There is no prize for handing your test in first, and students who
turn their papers in last do make "A's."
Stapling your scratch paper to the math test when handing it in has several
advantages:
 If you miscopied the answer from the scratch paper, you will probably get
credit for the answers.
 If you get the answer incorrect due to a careless error, your work on the
scratch paper could give you a few points.
 If you do get the problem wrong, it will be easier to locate errors when the
instructor reviews the test. This will prevent from making the same mistakes on
the next math test.
Remember: Handing in your scratch paper may get you extra
points or improve your next test score.
Reference:
Paul D. Nolting, Ph.D., Winning at Math, 1997 1989 by Academic Success Press,
Inc
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