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Tips for Taking Exams:

Multiple Choice Exams

  • Circle or underline the key words in the question.
  • Answer the questions in order. Mark any questions you are unsure of, return to them later.
  • Anticipate the answer before reading the choices .
  • Read all the choices.
  • Narrow the choices by eliminating those choices that are obviously incorrect .
  • Remember words such as: always, never, all, and none tend to be incorrect options. Words such as sometimes, seldom, and many tend to be in correct options.
  • Review the test . Use the information you've acquired working through the test and answer earlier questions you were not sure of.
  • Check your answers . Change responses only if you read a question incorrectly or if you recall additional information.
  • Make an educated guess if you do not know the answer. Never leave an answer blank .

Essay Exams

  1. Write legibly . Grading essay questions is in large part a subjective process. Sloppy, difficult to read handwriting might actually lower your grade.
  2. Be brief . Avoid filler and sentences that say nothing. Write as if you expect the person grading your test to be tired, bored, and overworked.
  3. Use a pen . Ink is easier to read than pencil.
  4. Write on one side of the paper . Writing on the back page will show through and make it harder to read.

Words commonly found in essay questions:

  • Analyze : Break into separate parts and discuss, examine, or interpret each part.
  • Compare : Examine two or more things. Identify similarities and differences.
  • Contrast : Show differences. Set in opposition.
  • Criticize : Make judgments. Evaluate comparative worth. Criticism often involves analysis.
  • Define : Give the meaning, usually a meaning specific to the course or subject. Determine the precise limits of the term to be defined. Explain the exact meaning. Definitions are usually short.
  • Describe : Give a detailed account. Make a picture with words. List characteristics, qualities, and parts.
  • Discuss : Consider and debate or argue the pros and cons of an issue. Write about any conflict. Compare and contrast.
  • Enumerate : List several ideas, aspects, events, things, qualities, reasons etc.
  • Explain : Make an idea clear. Show logically how a concept is developed. Give the reasons for the event.
  • Evaluate : Give your opinion or cite the opinion of an expert. Include evidence to support the evaluation.
  • Illustrate : Give concrete examples. Explain clearly by using comparisons or examples.
  • Interpret : Comment upon, give examples, describe relationships. Explain the meaning. Describe, then evaluate.
  • Outline : Describe main ideas, characteristics, or events. (Does not necessarily mean "write a Roman numeral/letter outline.")
  • Prove : Support with facts (especially facts presented in class or in the text.)
  • Relate : Show the connection between ideas or events. Provide a larger context.
  • State : Explain precisely.
  • Summarize : Give a brief, condensed account. Include conclusions. Avoid unnecessary details.
  • Trace : Show order of events or progress of a subject or event.
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