Author: Ian McAllister
Test Taking Strategies are Vital
Test taking strategies… What… you didn’t really fall for the story “Study hard and you’ll pass your exams” did you? Haven’t you heard about people who freeze up in exams even though they know all the answers? They just don’t know how to put their knowledge onto paper.
You can even make use of exam nerves once you know what is going on. They are a very powerful tool.
Test Taking is Unfair.
Who does it favor? Move to the favored group! “…the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill, but time and chance happen to them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11)
When Life Hands You A Lemon
Sell lemonade. Life is unfair, so test taking strategies are a great introduction to real life. Teachers try to protect you from unfair competition. In real life you will have to get used to unfairness from day one. You could organize student marches to protest against test taking, but nobody would take any notice. So take advantage of test taking strategies.
What would you suggest instead of exams? A different system could be worse. Imagine what it would be like if your teacher could just choose which students would pass, and which ones would fail without any test taking strategies to help you. I know that I would have passed fewer exams that way! One teacher apologized to me for deciding that I was a no-hoper. Only my vicious application of test taking strategies changed his mind. I’m glad that he couldn’t just decide who passed!
Do you remember when you were a child playing games? Did you keep changing the rules to suit you? When you find a system that victimizes group A and favors group B, you must twist the rules so that you fit into group B. Nothing has really changed for test taking strategies.
The favored few dress well. Dress well yourself.
The favored few speak well. Speak well yourself.
The favored… well I’m sure you get the idea.
Have you ever watched a quiz on TV and thought “Who cares? – What has that got to do with real life?” That is how I see test taking strategies.
You aim to win with test taking strategies regardless of the triviality of the exams. That means that if you have to pander to the unbelievably childish theories of a superior, that is what you do. If blue people are privileged then get out the woad die.
If you are learning to write computer programs your exams will ask you for the dates of the first computer, or when different computer languages were invented. Does that show that you are a better programmer? Of course not.
It is unfair. Just learn the dates and other trivia to benefit from the unfairness with your test taking strategies.
Essay Test Taking
Your tests will usually have essay questions in them. Who are the privileged few here? Journalists and other writers of fiction of course. So what should you do? Do I really have to tell you? Develop journalist skills. Get my free report about essay writing by filling in this form.
It will show you that it is not only easy but fun once you learn the secret that nobody seems to teach.
You can know ten times as much about your subject as the winner of the exams. But he knew all the journalistic tricks for test taking strategies.
You have big problems if you can’t write fast. Choose an efficient style of handwriting as described in my book about exams. By efficient I mean don’t use two strokes of the pen when one will do. Then practice taking dictation from the radio. Think about the words as you write – not about the letters. Fast writing helps with your test taking strategies.
Would you believe it? I learned the Chancery Script to speed up my writing, and got hooked. I’ve been interested in pretty handwriting ever since.
Misleading questions: examine each question thoroughly for double meanings, or specialist language. I once failed an essay question that asked me to write about the mechanics of a plant. I wrote an excellent essay on the subject, but got only 2 marks out of 20. When I complained, the professor explained that he wanted me to write about the mechanical strengthening of the xylem and phloem. He admitted that I had answered the question as he had written it, but wouldn’t change his marks for it.
gives you two examples of how to answer an essay question when you don’t know anything about the answer. A recent survey discovered that many kids don’t know how to unzip a banana. So what do you do if you have to write about bananas and you only have a vague idea that banana is flavoring additive 216? If the question is in an English exam your test taking strategies will get you through.
Test taking strategies: Multiple Choice
Trick Questions: MC exams are too easy. You don’t have to know the right answer – only recognize it. So examiners always include several trick questions so you can’t get 100% with your test taking strategies.
Photographic memory for test taking: you can pass if you remember well, without understanding anything. Your knowledge will be completely useless, but you will have passed. That is what counts until after your test taking, and you’ll be surprised by your employers’ contempt of what you have learned.
Chance: are there 4 answers for each question? You’ve a 25% chance of passing at random.
Using test taking strategies you can push this chance away up. Remember, you picked up at least something from your classes, so you can answer some correctly. If you know the answers to 40%, that leaves 60% of the questions, and if you get one in four right it gives you an extra 15%. You’ve passed! Use the unfairness in your favor.
I’ve passed the exam – you haven’t
My university classmates used to tease the lecturers to admit that they didn’t know something. Then they would ask “Aren’t you supposed to know?” The lecturer would always answer “I’ve passed the exams – you haven’t.”
That is the glaring unfairness in test taking. You will probably never use your knowledge again after your test taking. I passed my calculus exams. I didn’t need calculus again until ten years later and by then I had forgotten how to do the calculations. So I got a student to do the job for me. His test taking was ahead of him!
Teachers like to see you working hard. They really do believe that passing exams is a matter of how hard you work. Hopefully you won’t believe their fables any more. Hopefully you will be cynical enough now to be always alert for ways to join the privileged classes. Test taking strategies certainly cut out a lot of hard work. But the teachers like the results that you get!
And it’s true! I’ve passed my exams and you haven’t. So I don’t need to know anything any more.