Strategize your way to exam success
Write exams like a pro
You've worked hard, you know your stuff, now ace that test. Here are some winning exam writing strategies courtesy of SAIT's own masters of test taking in Academic Coaching.
Before you start
- Take a deep breath.
- Get the directions down — listen and read carefully.
- Scan the whole exam and get a feel for the pace you'll need to finish strong.
- Jot down any memory devices or formulas you know you'll need and might forget.
When you're ready
- First, go through the whole exam, stop to answer the easiest and shortest questions.
- Next, go through the exam again, stop to answer the more challenging questions.
- Finally, repeat, stop at the unanswered questions. Stuck? Look for hints in other test questions. Ask yourself what you do know and start there. If all else fails, use your best guess.
Always remember to read carefully for what the question is asking.
Pro tips for true/false tests
- If any part of the question is false, the answer is false.
- True means always true, 100% of the time — qualifiers such as "always", "all" and "never", usually indicate a false statement.
- Your first response is usually best.
Pro tips for essay tests
- Start with the easiest question and make sure you understand it — if you don't, ask your instructor.
- Before you start writing, make an outline — this will keep you on track and capture your ideas up front.
- Use your most important points first — and get to the point.
- Pace yourself based on how much each question is worth and the time allotted.
- If you get stuck, move on —another question may trigger the answer.
- Write something for each question — point form is better than nothing.
- Check that you've answered all parts of the question, then review your answers for grammar and clarity.
Get more helpful advice on how to write exams like a pro and more at an upcoming Student Success Seminar or drop by the Lamb Learner Success Centre — MC209, Stan Grad Centre — anytime.