Test Taking Tips  

Before the Test. . .


  1. Relax! Tests are designed to help you succeed in school. Your scores help you and your institution determine which courses are most appropriate for your current level of knowledge and skills. Once you identify your academic strengths and weaknesses, you can get the help you need to improve underdeveloped skills before they interfere with your learning.
  2. You will be able to concentrate better on the test if you get plenty of rest and eat properly before the test. You should also arrive a few minutes early so you can find the testing area, bathrooms, etc., and have time to gather your thoughts before the test begins.
  3. Be sure you understand the directions for each test before that test session begins. Ask questions if you need to.
  4. Read each question carefully until you understand what the question is asking. If answering an item requires several steps, be sure you consider them all.
  5. Be sure to answer every item. You are not penalized for guessing. Your score will provide more useful placement information if you answer every item, even if you guess.
  6. Don't be afraid to change an answer if you believe that your first choice was wrong.
  7. If you have a problem or question during the test, raise your hand and the test administrator or proctor will help you. Although they cannot answer test questions for you, they can help you with other types of problems.

Written Examinations. . .

Pace yourself

When asked to write an essay, most writers find it useful to do some planning before they start writing, and to do a final check of the essay when it is finished. It is unlikely that you will have time to draft and fully revise your essay. Therefore, taking a few minutes to plan your essay before you begin writing is a good strategy.

Plan before you write

Some writers like to plunge right in, but this is seldom a good way to do well on an essay writing task. Planning and prewriting gets you thinking about the issue, suggests patterns for presenting your thoughts, and allows you to come up with ideas for introducing and concluding your essay. Before writing, carefully read the prompt and make sure you understand it-reread it if you aren't sure. Decide how you want to answer the question in the prompt.

If you choose to do some prewriting, ask testing center staff if you may use paper they provide to organize your thoughts. This prewriting might simply be a list of ideas, reasons, and examples that you will use to explain your point of view. Write down what you think others might say in opposition to your point of view and think about how you would respond to their arguments. Think of how best to organize the ideas you are going to present in your essay. You can refer back to these notes as you write the essay.


Once you're ready to write your essay on the computer, proceed with the confidence that you have planned your writing. At the beginning of your essay, make sure readers see that you understand the issue. Explain your point of view in a clear and logical way. If possible, discuss the issue in a broader context. Address what others might say to refute your point of view and present a counterargument. Use specific examples. Vary End with a strong conclusion that summarizes or reinforces your position.  Make sure that the audience understands your position at both the beginning and the end of your essay.

Review your essay

Take a few minutes before submitting your essay to read it over. Correct any mistakes in grammar, usage, punctuation, and spelling. Within the time available, try to make your essay as clear, as focused, and as polished as you can.