Test Taking Skills: Help Your Student Test More Effectively


1. No matter what test-taking skills are taught subject content knowledge is always the best way of securing success. Encourage your students to study well before the test (studying each day as new content is introduced instead of cramming the night before) and teach study skills using their individual learning styles. (See the learning styles portion of the Performance Pyramid.)
2. While teachers shouldn’t give specific information away about the test, they should give some information about the test content. Recommend general areas of study and identify materials the students will be responsible for.
3. Students should be familiar with the format of the test before it will be given. Tell students if the test will include multiple choice, essays, etc. Giving a practice test that uses the test format is an effective way of familiarizing students with the format and giving them an indicator of their progress so far in the unit.
4. Remind your students that healthy bodies and healthy minds go hand in hand. Encourage students to get a full night's rest the day before the test and to eat healthy balanced meals during the day. Cramming the night before is a poor study skill. It depletes mental alertness, and isn't effective for mental retention. If students want a quick study session, encourage them to get up a little earlier instead.
5. Make sure your students have healthy attitudes about test-taking. Attitudes should not be overly pessimistic, overly optimistic, or apathetic. Attitudes should be positive and confident but tempered with caution: "I can do well on this test if I stay alert and try my best." Some tips about keeping student test attitudes in check:
  • Are students' standards too high? - Have a calm discussion about what they can reasonably expect of themselves. Help the student set reasonable goals.
  • Do students get frustrated easily? - Reassure students that they are not expected to answer ever answer correctly.
  • Are students afraid of getting evaluated negatively? - Create an environment that expects effort and efficiency. Reward students for their best efforts and not wasting resources, and put less focus on grades.
  • Are students uncertain of test expectations? - Give them practice tests, and give them information about the test focus.
  • Do they have test anxiety? - See the text anxiety section of this website.
6. Reward students for their personal progress; don't compare student scores to one another. Give students specific ways they can improve their scores in the future.