The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

South counselor outlines difficulties in passing tests

By Adam Young/reporter

Practice makes students better at test taking, a South Campus counselor said recently.

Annie Dobbins, counselor, presented How To Take a Test and Pass March 11 to help students avoid some of the difficulties in test taking.

“Unconscious consciousness,” she said, “you can be so comfortable with [the test] that you never even think about it.”

Dobbins outlined many of the problems in test taking with specific examples of types of tests.

After studying, a student’s first objective in test taking is to reduce stress. Many students can have physical symptoms such as nausea and excessive sweating prior to a test.

This can produce anxiety that is counterproductive to the students’ ability to concentrate.

Dobbins said many factors go into academic achievement besides good test taking.

“Test taking is only part of the puzzle, along with your study method, note taking system and attitude,” she said.

Some strategies, Dobbins said, are always answering the easiest question first and reading the entire exam because it could reveal some answers. She said students should always reread the question.

Tests such as true-false, fill in the blank, multiple choice and matching are objective. Dobbins said objective tests have extreme modifiers that should alert the student. These extreme modifiers include words like always, best,onlyeverynever and none. When students see these words in any of these types of tests, it will enable them to possibly omit that answer. 

By assuming a true-false question is true at first, the student must look for a word or a statement that proves it false. Dobbins said that most instructors prefer using truthful answers because it is easier to write in a positive way.

The same strategy of avoiding extreme modifiers can also be applied to multiple-choice questions. When students read a multiple-choice question, they should always look for these distracters plus foolish or ridiculous answers.

When numbers are involved in answers, students should try to eliminate the high and low numbers. By crossing out all the obviously incorrect choices first, students can narrow down their options. Many times if the options of “all the above” or “none of the above” are used by the instructor, Dobbins said that usually “all the above” is correct and “none of the above” is incorrect.

Matching tests are another type of test where distracting answers should be avoided. She said students should always use their logic when answering questions. Crossing out choices a student has already made cuts down on the possibilities.

Besides essay tests, fill-in-the-blank can be one of the more difficult tests. Dobbins said on this type of test, students either know the subject or they do not. One helpful tip is to look at the last word before the blank. If the last word is “an,” the student should know that the answer must start with a vowel.

Possibly the most dreaded type of test is the essay.

Dobbins said always rereading the question will help students make sure they know exactly what the instructor is wanting.

Dobbins said a student should start off with a strong opening statement and then add three or four major supporting points.

It is always better to write more than less, Dobbins said.

“The student should always write an essay test as if they were writing to a friend or an uniformed reader rather than your instructor,” she said.

Acting as if the instructor has no knowledge of this subject can help the student elaborate more with the answer, Dobbins said.

Students, Dobbins said, should all be at least 80-88 percent correct on all tests, and they should go back and relearn the questions missed.

Academic achievement is the combination of many good skills, Dobbins said.

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