Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Chapter 9: improving your performance on exams & tests

  • you begin preparing for a test on the 1st day of term
  • research studies show study groups are one of the most effective strategies for preparing for exams
  • most common mistake when taking sci. or math exam: failing to read problems carefully & interpret & answer what's being asked
  • answer easiest questions first on exams
  • check syllabus!!
  • Prepare physically:
be well rested, don't stay up late to cram
do some physical activity to relieve stress & get a break from studying
eat right, avoid greasy food, caffeinated beverages, & sweets
  • Prepare emotionally:
know material so you can be confident
practice relaxing
use positive self- talk
  • Prepare for test taking:
find out about test format (essay, multiple choice, T/F, fill in the blank, short answer, etc.)
design exam plan (schedule time to study, to-do list to be ready, read & learned all material)
join a study group
get a tutor
start preparing/studying as soon as possible
  • Successful test taking tips:
write name on test!!
analyze, ask, & stay calm (ask for clarification to questions you don't understand)
make best use of time
jot down idea-starters, formulas, etc. before test
answer easy questions first to boost confidence & get some out of the way
take deep breath if panicking or mind goes blank
check work
  • Essay questions:
budget exam time (note point values, what is easiest, hardest, what will take the longest)
develop brief outline of answer before begin writing
write concise, organized answers (respond to all parts of the question!!)
know key task words in essay questions (analyze, compare, contrast, define, evaluate, interpret, etc.)
  • watch out for questions w "always, never, only" & "not, except, but"
  • Types of tests:
-problem solving: show all steps, double check, check w calculator if allowed, read all directions
-machine scored tests: make sure question number & number you're bubbling match, erase stray marks
-computerized tests: take advantage of practice tests, sometimes can't scroll back to previous questions, check answers before submitting
-laboratory tests: to prepare, attend lab, take good notes, study lab textbook before test
-open book/open note tests: harder than other tests bc takes a long time to look through book to find answers, use sticky notes in textbook to find pages easily, check if need to cite answers
-take home tests: difficult, many are essay tests, give yourself enough time to complete it, ASK ABOUT COLLABORATION bc issues of academic honesty can arise
  • Test anxiety:
understand source & symptoms
can be result of pressure students put on themselves to succeed
^sometimes can be good bc motivation
expectations of parents, friends, etc.
lack of preparation
negative prior experience
standardized testing anxiety
remember that no matter what the result, it's not the end of the world
try to predict test questions
subject specific test anxiety
can get anxious on first day of class, when starting to study for test, or right before test
symptoms: butterflies, upset stomach, queasy, nausea, headaches, fast heartbeat, hyperventilating, shaking, sweating, cramps, etc.
combat test anxiety: exercise, breathe, stretch muscles, relax body, think of a peaceful scene, focus on positive, get to class early, stop for a bit or go to a different section if you go blank
  • cognitive restructuring: applying positive thinking & giving self encouraging messages instead of self-defeating negative ones
  • let instructor know if you find error in grading once you get the test back
  • review test to learn from mistakes
  • academic honesty: don't cheat, or plagiarize!
  • plagiarism: taking another person's ideas/work & presenting as your own
  • ^survey presented at University of South Carolina showed 20 % of students incorrectly thought that buying a term paper wasn't cheating
  • consequences of academic honesty: suspension, expulsion, losing job, etc.

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