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Tips for Taking - Types of Tests

Demonstration - in lab courses you may be expected to show the instructor that you can perform certain basic operations, such as preparing a microscope slide. The only way to study for this is to practice the operation regularly in class until you're certain you are doing it correctly.

Essay - the first thing to do on an essay exam is to read each question carefully--watching for words like explain, compare, describe, analyze, contrast--and be sure you understand what you-re asked to do. If the question says to compare two items, it won't do to simply describe them. Then work your way from the easiest questions to the hardest questions, being careful to think through each answer before you write it. An effective technique is to use as many specific names and references as you can. If the professor gives your answer only a surface reading, these buzz words may make your answers seem much more credible. If you run out of time, write outline answers.

Fill-in-the-blank - sometimes called "completion" exams, such tests require you to provide correct word or phrase that completes the statement. One way to study for this type of test is to organize the material into definitive statements as you go.

Identification - You usually find such tests in the lab sections of science courses. You're shown a collection of specimens that you have to identify and provide information about. The way to prepare is to memorize several distinguishing characteristics for each item. Another type of identification test provides the name of a person or place and asks you to supply as many facts about the person or place as you can.

Matching - The task here is to associate an item on one list with its complement on another list--for instance, matching people's names with their accomplishments, words with definitions and the like. Obviously, you should first match the items you are most sure of then, unless there's a penalty for guessing, match the remaining items through the process of elimination, Check the instructions before you start: can any of the "answers" be used more than once?

Multiple Choices - Theoretically such tests should be easy because the answer is one of the alternatives and through elimination you should be able to figure out which one. A common mistake people make is to choose the first statement that seems right without reading the rest--the object of many such tests is to choose the best answer from more than one correct statement.

Open Book - Most open book exams are constructed in such a way that you cannot readily find the answer in the textbook. For example, you may be told to analyze the facts or interpret them in some way. Nonetheless, the book can help you recall buzzwords and phrases.

Problem Solving - The best way to study for such exams is to work practice problems until you are confident that you understand how to work the formula in all cases. When you finish each problem on the test, recheck each step of the answer to be sure you haven't made a mistake. Then label your answer to help the grader find it.

Short Answer - this kind of test requires you to answer each question in several sentences rather than the longer answer required on an essay exam. You study for it much as you do for an essay exam.

Take Home - This type of exam is really a series of short themes that you prepare outside of class, using whatever resources you want. Professors usually set a limit on the amount of time you are to spend writing the exam, but students who score high often exceed this time limit considerably. The professor expects you to produce well-crafted answers when you're working with both books and time in the quiet of your own room.

True-False - You read a statement and pronounce it true or false. It's as simple as that. Don't try to interpret a statement too closely--most true-false questions are clearly stated--but do look out for words like always, never or only which usually indicate that the statement is false.