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College Success Skills: Online Resources: Test Taking

Guide to help UAS Ketchikan students be successful!

Test Preparation

With thanks to the Tarrant County College Libraries, here's a link to their "5 Day Test Preparation Plan".

Preparing for the Test

Test preparation begins on the first day of class. 

  • Make sure that you attend class regularly so that you will have information presented by the instructor that is not in the textbook.  You will also be present to ask questions and listen to the discussion generated by other students' questions.  The instructor may schedule in class activities that relate to the readings in your text.
  • Join a study group or find a study partner. 
  • Use a study guide or create one of your own. Using the Cornell Note Taking System creates a study guide for you as you take notes.

Test Anxiety

Test anxiety manifests in physical symptoms and in negative thoughts.  You can reduce test anxiety by being adequately prepared for the test, reducing negative self-talk, and dealing with the physical reactions.


A little nervousness when taking a test is normal and can have a positive influence on test taking performance. If anxiety is too high, it can negatively impact one’s performance.  What to do?  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Take care of your physical self
  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Eat a healthy breakfast – avoid sugary foods
  • Stay hydrated
  • Exercise to reduce body tension- take a quick walk the day of the test
  1. Prepare thoroughly and in advance to build confidence
  • Organize your notes and class materials
  • Develop a study schedule allocating time each week to review class material rather than waiting until the last minute
  1. Relax – slowing down helps control your thoughts and emotions.  When you start to feel tension building take a few moments to relax.
  • Use progressive muscle relaxation techniques
  • Breath slowly and deeply to the count of 10
  • Imagine a peaceful scene – such as a sunset or beach waves
  1. Engage in positive self talk
  • If you have prepared adequately, remind yourself – “I’m prepared, I can do this!”
  1. Visualize your success
  2. Employ test taking strategies 
  • Arrive early to the exam with necessary test taking tools – pens, pencils, calculator, etc.
  • Have a plan and pace your self accordingly

Recall or Recognition?

Do you know the material well enough to explain it to someone?  This is recall.

Can you recognize the correct answer when you see it even though you can't pull it up on your own?  This is recognition.

Find out what kind of test you will be taking. 

  • If it is a short answer, fill in the blank, or essay test, you will need to know the material at the level of recall.
  • For true/false, matching, or multiple choice tests, you will need to know that material at least at the level of recognition.

Test Taking Strategies

Tips for Taking Standardized Tests

Concentrate. Do not talk or distract others.

Listen carefully to the directions.  Ask questions if they are not clear.

Pace yourself. Keep your eye on the time, but do not worry too much about not finishing.

Work through all of the questions in order.  If you do not think you know an answer to a problem, skip it and come back to it when you have finished the test.

Read all of the possible answers for each question before choosing an answer.

Eliminate any answers that are clearly wrong, and choose from the others.  Words like “always” and “never” often signal that an answer is false.

If questions are based on a reading passage, read the questions first and then the passage.  Then go back and try to answer the questions. Scan through the passage one last time to make sure the answers are correct.

When you finish the test, go back through and check your answers for careless mistakes.  Change answers only if you are sure they are wrong or you have a very strong feeling they are wrong. Often your first response is correct.

Do not be afraid to guess at a question.  If you have a hunch you know the answer, you probably do!

Use all of the time allotted to check and recheck your test.