Do you want to know the secret test-taking system top students use to score WAY higher than everyone else?
If so, read on to know what this system is.
Now before I introduce the system, I want you to check if you have the correct study process nailed down to learn the material successfully.
This post is useful if you know the study process and you have the concepts nailed down to answer the test questions adequately, but for some reason, you keep getting questions wrong and you get deducted 10-15 points on the test where you knew the right answers because of errors you didn’t catch.
If this describes you, this post is for you. I will show you how to fix this problem in this post. It is easy to do, but it’s not obvious so you are in the right place at the right time.
However, if you do not have the concepts of your course material nailed down and you rely on memorization to save you, this post will not be helpful to you until you understand how you need to learn to earn the top grade.
Read this article here on StudentsNepal to know how to study the correct way. Now once you are ready, proceed with the post to know the test-taking system bound to clean your errors up!
Go Through the Test Once
The first thing you need to do before the test starts is ask your professor or proctor for blank sheets of paper to write on during the test. They should provide the paper to you.
If they do not, explain what you will do with the paper and they should give you the paper.
You will see what you will do with the extra paper.
You might think you need to obsess over every little detail when you get into the test. However, this isn’t the case.
Usually, what happens with us humans is that we tend to make typos and unintentional writing errors. These things cause us to make mistakes accidentally.
Imagine taking the test as if you are writing a college essay. You have a rough draft, a 2nd draft and then a final draft at the end of the term.
With test taking, you will be doing the same thing to ensure you are expressing your ideas the way you want to.
Why is this? Because typically, first drafts are not great at all.
This is what the editing process is for.
So for your first go around on the test, just answer the questions freely with what you know.
Don’t worry about mistakes and reading the question too carefully.
Just get through it so you at least have a partial credit on the test and you do not stutter for too long.
Of course, be mindful of the time you have, but do not get caught up in it.
If you get stuck on a question, skip it and come back to it later. This builds up your mental momentum to answer the question with relative ease later on and so you don’t waste time.
Now after you finish the first draft of your test, you will check your work for mistakes. Here’s how you do it.
How to Check Your Work for Mistakes and Typos
You will have 2 ways of doing this depending on your situation in test time.
I will first explain the method you could follow if you determine you have ample time to do the problems again.
Typically, if you finish the first draft of your test at most half the time you are given (say you finish the 1st draft in the first hour of a 2-hour test), you should follow this strategy for checking your work.
Here’s how it works:
You will take the blank sheets of paper you asked for at the beginning of the test and do all of the problems or questions again without looking at your first solution.
This is done so you can think about the problems and questions like you were looking at them the very first time.
Here, you will read the questions more carefully to identify the details you probably missed the first time around. I repeat, don’t look at your first solutions at all during this process.
Once you finish answering all of the questions or problems again, compare the answers to your first answers. See if you can find details you know shouldn’t be in those answers (ex. A sign error in a quadratic equation; you know you should’ve put a – sign instead of a + sign).
If you find no errors, great. You can go on to the next phase of the editing process which I talk about next. However, if you find an error, identify where the error is. If the error is in your first solution, you have 2 options.
The first is you can turn in your edited answer and leave a note for the professor or TA to grade your 2nd answer since you were checking your work for errors. Chances are they will understand this and they will grade your 2nd answer. Ideally, you should do this if you are short on time.
If you do have time, you will return to your first solution and write in your edited answer. Do NOT cross out your first answer yet because you do not have sufficient time to do so. Just get it on there.
Once you finish writing your second answer onto the test paper, you will check the rest of your work. After you are finished writing in your second answers, you will cross off any old wrong answers.
Remember, partial credit is better than no credit!
Now if your second solution is wrong, ensure this is the case. Read both solutions again. If you can confirm this, move on to check the next question.
You will now review the procedure in the case where you don’t have sufficient time to redo the questions again or you finished going through the questions again and you have extra time to spare to check your work again. In most cases, this is the procedure you should follow if you took more than half to two-thirds the test time to answer all of the questions once.
In this procedure, the first thing you will do is note how much time you have left to complete your test. You will take the number of questions on your test and divide it by the amount of time you have left. This is to make sure you get to check each question on the test without skipping any of them because you ran out of time.
You will use this equation to determine the average amount of time you should spend on each question checking their answers, which is known as your checking time:
To illustrate this equation further, let’s say you have 20 minutes left to complete the test. You have 4 questions on the test. You divide 20 minutes by 4 questions and you get 5 minutes per question for your checking time. Does this make sense?
Now of course, some questions can require more time than others, but this is why the checking time is an average. Allocate the time invested in these questions accordingly.
After you calculate your checking time, you will read each question carefully to see if you missed any important details. Additionally, you will look at your answers to see if you made any errors you know should not be there. If you find these errors before reaching your checking time, correct them immediately without scratching the first answer if you have sufficient space to do so.
In the case where you have to change an answer due to an error, you can go over the checking time since you are earning points towards your grade instead of risking points being lost (even though you are risking your grade on other questions a bit).
However, you must recalculate the checking time after you fix the error(s) since your average time per question will change. If you do not find an error and your checking time is up, you have to move on to check the next question. Otherwise, you risk having wrong answers on the test unnecessarily.
After you finish checking your answers, if time permits, go back to the questions you did not finish checking and check them before turning in your test. Use the checking time formula only if you feel you have ample time to go through the process again. If not, check the problems and leave the test.
You Have It
You now have a test taking system you can follow without worrying or panicking about your grade.
If you still doubt me, try it yourself on your next test and see how you become more efficient during the exam. A widely regarded professor online recommends this same strategy to take your tests (although with a few variations). You can see this testimonial here.
Use this system to your advantage and I promise you your test grades will improve tremendously.
Author Bio: Evan Cruz is the founder of Join the Island, the blog dedicated to helping young adults become more productive, reach their full potential and navigate college with extremely insightful hacks and techniques. He is a graduate from Florida International University in Miami, Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering (magna cum laude).
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