Activity: Using Your Test-taking Skills

Purpose

This activity is designed to help you think about some challenges that tests can present and how test-taking skills can address such challenges.

Procedures

Step One. Take the short quiz below.

Quiz on Life in the United States

Read the following five questions and answer them as quickly as you can.  Each of the first four questions is worth 10 points and the last question is worth 60 points. The time allotted for the test is 10 minutes. Please check your watch before you start.  Stop working on the quiz after 10 minutes. Answer each question to the best of your ability; there is no penalty for guessing. Begin when you are ready.

      1. How often do most adults in the U.S. eat out?A. Once a day
        B. Once a week
        C. Twice a week
        D. Once a month
      2. One of the most common tests taken by people from every walk of life is the written driver’s license exam; usually these tests are not multiple-choice.A. True
        B. False
      3. In the popular team sport, volleyball, what does it mean to “spike” the ball?
      4. In political slang, a “dark horse” candidate is one who was unknown before running for office, and an elected official in her or his last term of office is sometimes called a “____________ duck.”
      5. Explain why you think girls and women should (or should not) be allowed to be in the special forces, such as the Navy Seals. Support your opinion with facts!

 

Step 2. Reflect on the quiz by answering the two bulleted questions below. If you are completing this activity as part of a workshop or course, your instructor may ask you to discuss your answers with others in the group:

      • Which of the general test-taking skills are most important for this quiz?
      • What test-taking skills did you use in completing the quiz?

 

Step 3. Reflect on the quiz questions by completing the following chart. See the sample chart (which uses different test questions) for ideas.

Quiz Questions, Challenges, and Test-Taking Skills

Type of Question

Quiz Question

Challenge

Test-Taking Skill(s) Needed

Multiple-Choice Question How often do most adults in the U.S. eat out?
A. Once a day
B. Once a week
C. Twice a week
D. Once a month
True/False Question One of the most common tests taken by people in every walk of life is the driver’s license exam; usually these tests are not multiple-choice exams.

  • True
  • False
 
Short- Answer
Question
In the popular team sport, volley ball, what does it mean to “spike” the ball?
Fill-in-the-Blank Question In political slang, a “dark horse” candidate is one who was unknown before running for office; and an elected official in her or his last term of office is sometimes called a “____________ duck.”
Essay
Question
Explain why girls and women should (or should not) be allowed to be in the special forces, such as the Navy Seals. Support your opinion with facts.

Sample Chart: 
Questions, Challenges, and Test-Taking Skills

Type of Question

Question

Challenge

Test-Taking Skill to Apply

Multiple-Choice Question In autumn, the activity of some animals increases in preparation for winter. Which of the following is an example of this seasonal activity?

  • A. Bears hibernating in caves
  • B. Bees swarming
  • C. Birds nesting
  • D. Spiders spinning webs
Students who skim the question may select the first seasonal activity, “bears hibernating in caves,” rather than the correct answer (“spiders spinning webs”). Read questions carefully; guess if you don’t know the answer; eliminate as many wrong answers as you can.
True/False Question Humans harvest crops year-round in some climates, but in temperate climates, winter is not usually the most important harvest time. Students who skim the question quickly or get distracted may easily miss negatives that change the meaning. Read questions carefully; check for negative words such as “no,” “not” and “never.”
Short- Answer
Question
How many planets are there in our solar system and what is the order of the planets in terms of their distance from the sun—closest to farthest away? This is a two-part question. Students might focus on the order of the planets and forget to tell how many planets there are. Read each question carefully; answer all parts of a question; budget time to review questions and answers if at the end of the test.
Fill-in-the-Blank Question What we call “the evening star” is not really a star; it’s a ________________________. Some students might see the length of the blank as indicating a longer word (or more words) than “planet,” or they might miss the small clue that the article “a” provides. Use the answer that completes the sentence most accurately unless two answers seem equally good to you.  If both answers seem equally good, take grammatical clues and the length of the blank into consideration.
Essay
Question
Kindness and compassion towards all living things is a mark of a civilized society. Tell how our society would have to change to become more “civilized.” This question needs clarification. It’s not clear how students who don’t agree with the quote should respond. Read each question carefully. If a question isn’t clear, ask the teacher for clarification.