Sooner or later, most students are confronted with the necessity of taking some form of English examination. Some students are more successful than others when taking an examination.
Often the more successful students are better prepared. However, sometimes students who do well have better test taking skills. These abilities really have nothing to do with understanding English better. They are strategic skills that make taking the test easier, and therefore provide better results.
Some General Guidelines
Here are some very important -and often ignored- guidelines to taking a test successfully.
- Do not insist on completing each question before going to the next.
This is extremely important. If you spend a lot of time on one question that you don't understand there can be two negative outcomes:
- Losing time
Remember one question may only be worth one point, if you are not able to answer questions later because you have lost time you could lose more points!
- Becoming nervous
Becoming nervous can make you lose your concentration and that leads to worse results.
- If possible, go through the entire test answering the questions you are sure you know.
This results in your being more relaxed and feeling more confident.
- Go through the test a second time working out the answers to more difficult questions.
Now you will feel more confident and this will improve your test taking. However, remember to not waste too much time on any one question.
- Once you have gone through the test twice, see if any of the questions asked can help you answer those really difficult questions.
This is a little used trick. Sometimes questions asked are answered in later questions asking for different things. This should not be tried until you have finished the test and have some time remaining to try the questions you have had problems with again.
- If you have a strong feeling about a question when you first answer it, don't go back and change it later.
Usually (but not always) a strong first impulse means we know the answer and we don't really have to think about it too much. Going back to think about it usually makes you unsure and often causes an error. This is very common so be very careful!
· Play the odds
If you don't know the answer, write something. If you are answering a 4 possibility multiple choice question you will still have a 25% chance of being correct!
- Do not cheat!!!
Taking a test is as much for you as it is for your teacher. If you cheat, you don't help yourself in the long run.
How To Take a Reading Comprehension Multiple Choice Test
Multiple choice reading comprehension sections are common on most English examinations including the TOEFL, Cambridge Exams (First Certificate, CAE and Proficiency). Follow these points to score high.
- Keep in mind the exact amount of time you have to complete the exercise (18 minutes on the First Certificate, 20 Minutes per section on the TOEFL).
- Read the text through quickly without stopping to check your understanding of the text.
- Read the text a second time more carefully. Take the time to pause at sections you may find more difficult.
- Scan the multiple choice questions without looking at the answers. See if you can answer the questions easily by yourself. Skip any questions that you cannot answer immediately.
- Re-read the multiple choice questions and answers. Skip any question that find too difficult.
- If you cannot find something close to your original answer to the question, take a look at the text again.
- After you have answered each question, return to the text to find a justification for each of your answers.
- Return to the questions that you were not able to answer immediately and see if you can answer them now.
- If you still have time, check that the other possible answers are not specifically referred to in the text.
- Never spend too much time on any one question.
- Don't worry about understanding every single word. Reading comprehension focuses on general comprehension.