Test Taking Tips

I. General Test Taking Strategies

Before the test

  • Be rested and comfortable;
  • Know what to expect in the test (content, format, timing, etc.);
  • Be concerned (helps you do your best);
  • Avoid test anxiety;
  • Arrive early on test day.

During the test

  • Keep a positive attitude;
  • Relax;
  • Budget your time to allow room for review;
  • For a written test, make sure to identify yourself on the answer sheet;
  • For a written test, quickly read through entire test (for information and timing);
  • For a written test, read test instructions carefully for each section;
  • For an oral test, listen carefully to instructions for each part;
  • For a written test and an oral test, concentrate -- one question/segment at a time.
  • For a written test and an oral test, don’t be distracted by the questions/words you don’t know.

Before you turn in your test

  • Fight the urge to turn in early;
  • Make sure you don’t miss any items;
  • Review questions and answers;
  • Review your performance for future benefits (timing, difficult questions, strategies, etc.).

II. Steps in Answering Multiple Choice Questions

  1.  Start with the first question;
  2. Anticipate the answer as you read the question, but be flexible;
  3. Read the question and all possible answers. If you know the answer, mark the answer sheet and go on to the next question;
  4. If you are unsure of the answer, use process of elimination:
    • Pick out the options you are sure are incorrect (whole options);
    • Rule out all answers which contain wrong options (key words in options);
    • Rule out all answers which omit options you are sure of (key words in options);
    • Select the best remaining answer, or
    • Go for your first impression if you have to guess.
  5. If you are still unsure of the answer
    • Cover the answers and read the question extra carefully. Now read the answers one at a time immediately after reading the question;
    • Use rules of grammar;
    • Eliminate exaggerated or complex answers;
    • Look for the answer in subsequent questions, if applicable.

III. Steps in Answering True-False Questions

  1. Look for words that indicate absolutes (always, never, all, none, etc.). Absolutes mean no exception, therefore they are often false;
  2. Look for words that limit meaning (some, few, often, many, frequently, etc.). Limited meaning choices are more sensible, thus they are often true;
  3. Look for double negatives (not be without, not insignificant, not unimportant, etc.). Double negatives cancel themselves out, so they are often true.

IV. Steps in Taking the Oral Test

Sight translation test

  1. Silently go over the entire passage before translating;
  2. Silently read each complete sentence before translating, one sentence at a time.
  3. Avoid word for word translation. Instead, organize best possible target language sentence that conveys the complete meaning of the original sentence;
  4. Mind your enunciation;
  5. Budget your time for each sentence, but be relaxed.

Consecutive interpretation

  1. Listen carefully to the whole sentence/segment;
  2. Pay special attention to key words and details (names, numbers, dates, etc.);
  3. Memorize key words and details (or take notes if it works better for you);
  4. Interpret into best possible target language sentences;
  5. Mind your enunciation;
  6. Save your repeats (two allowed) for long sentences/segments.

Simultaneous interpretation

  1. Look out for the points the speaker is trying to get across;
  2. Pay attention to important details such as date, time, and numbers;
  3. Keep a steady flow of words, and don't waste time fumbling for the exact target language equivalents;
  4. Try to establish a delay between the speaker and you that is comfortable for you;
  5. Keep pace with the speaker at the delay you established;
  6. Don't panic over or think about what you miss; Just remain calm and catch up with the speaker as quickly as you can.

V. Memory Retention Skills

  • Understand thoroughly;
  • Learn complete units at one time;
  • Spot what is to be memorized verbatim (mark it);
  • Fix concrete imagery (see the key words).

VI. The Helpful “P’s” in Test Taking

  • Positive attitude: Be self confident;
  • Persistence: It takes work to succeed;
  • Preparation: The most vital “P”;
  • Poise: Be cool;
  • Perspective: The test is not the “be all” or “end all”.