How to do well in tests
There are three important things you can do to ensure success summative A summative test is a test that you take at the end of a unit or course. The purpose of the test is to tell you and the teacher how much you have learned. tests.
Firstly, you can prepare for them effectively. Secondly, you can use effective strategies during the test itself. And thirdly, after the test, you can reflect on the reasons for the grade you achieved, This is particularly important if you did less well than expected.
Preparing effectively for tests
Here are various things you can do to maximise your chances of success in the test:
Keep on top of the work in progress
This means that you do the work when it is set (and make up what you missed if you were away). You also make sure that you understand what you are doing, or ask for help if you don't.
Find out what you will be tested on
Most teachers will give you a review sheet so that you can be pretty sure what to study for the tests. You could also find out which part of the test carries most marks.
Work out a review schedule
Make sure you know the test schedule, and make a plan listing the subjects you are going to review in the evenings leading up to the exams.
Review your work
@ There are many ways to study for exams. The best method will depend on the subject and the kind of questions you are going to be asked in the test. ~
In every case, however, you will remember more if you do something active. This means that you shouldn't just read through your work again and again; you need to make study notes.
There are different kinds of study notes. For example, if you have to learn the important vocabulary of a topic, you could write the word on one side of a small card. On the other side you could a definition or examples of the word. The cards are now your study notes. (More on learning vocabulary from cards)
If you have to review a large and complicated topic like the French Revolution, your study notes could be an outline of the main events or a mind map of the important causes.
When you have finished your notes, you can ask someone to test you on them. You can also review them again at the last minute before the exam.
Relax and get enough sleep
A little anxiety before an important test is a good thing, but some students get so nervous that they don't perform as well as they could. Of course, one way to avoid being nervous is to be well-prepared, for example by following the advice above.
Another good thing to do is to make sure you get enough sleep. And don't spend all your time just working. You will study more effectively if you take time off to be with your friends or do some sports.
Using effective test strategies
There are things you can do in the test itself to help you to get the best possible score.
Manage your time carefully. Don't rush into the first question. Quickly, look over the whole test and decide on the order in which to do the answers. It is a good idea to do the easier questions before the harder questions.
Try to leave time at the end of the test to read over your answers quickly.
Read the questions carefully. Make sure you understand exactly what you need to do. For many questions, it's helpful to spend some time thinking about how best to answer and making an outline.
Don't get stuck. If you are finding a question really difficult, go to the next one. You can come back to the difficult question if you have time left at the end.
Write down essential information. Sometimes you know that you will be tested on certain things. For example, dates, mathematical formula, vocabulary. These are good things to review quickly just before the test and write down at the start of it.
Bring a bottle of water if allowed. If you get stuck or are feeling stressed, stretch your arms and take a drink of water.
Learning from tests
Whether you got a good or a bad grade in your test, it is important you learn from it so that you can do a better job next time. Here are some of the ways that you could have gone wrong. They are followed by suggestions on how you can avoid the problems in the future.
You never did (or understood) the work in the first place
Obviously it's important to keep up with the work in progress in your subject classes. If you don't understand something, make sure you ask your subject teacher or ESL teacher at the time.
@@ It's certainly not a good idea to wait until just before the exam to try and catch up with work you missed or didn't understand. ~~
You did and understood the work, but you didn't study before the test
You can't expect to do well in a test if you don't review your notes. If follow the advice in section 1 above, you can be sure that you have done everything possible to prepare yourself properly.
You understood the work and studied for the test, but you didn't understand the test question(s)
If it is allowed, ask the teacher to explain what the question means. If you cannot ask, finish the questions you do understand before coming back to the difficult ones. You may now find that you understand what you have to do. If you are still unsure, make an intelligent guess on what your teacher is asking.
Teachers do not set questions to trick students. They try to ask questions that test students' knowledge and understanding of the work they have been doing in class. Show the teacher what you know about the topic, even if you do not fully understand the question.
You understood the question, but didn't know how to answer
The advice is the same as in a previous paragraph. Leave the question until you have done all the others you are sure about. Then make an intelligent guess on how to answer.
You understood the question and knew how to answer in your language, but couldn't answer in English
Try to give some sort of answer in English. In most cases your teacher is interested only in seeing what you understand of the subject. The quality of your English is not nearly so important.
If you really can't write anything in English, write your answer in your own language. Then ask the teacher after the exam if he or she will allow another student to translate what you have written.
You knew how to answer in English but you didn't give the right answer (or you didn't give the full answer)
Listen carefully when the teacher gives back the test papers and discusses the answers. Make sure you understand where you went wrong, or what you left out. @@@ If you don't understand why you got a low score on the test or a particular question, ask the teacher. ~~~
You didn't check your work carefully
It is easy to make silly mistakes in the pressure of exams. That's why you need to give yourself enough time at the end of your test to check through your work. It's a shame to lose points through carelessness rather than lack of knowledge.
You felt too much stress
It is normal to feel stress in a test. But if you think that it was stopping you from giving your best, ask yourself first if you followed all the advice above. If you did, then ask your teacher or counselor what else they suggest.
Doing well in tests depends not only on how much you know and understand about the topic of the test. It also depends on how well you prepare for the test, how well you organise your time in the test, and how well you reflect on your performance in the test.
A final thought: Test-taking is a skill. Like any other skill, if you practise it, you will become better at it.