Simple tips to prepare you for exam day
by Jeff Sorg, OnlineEd
Okay, now what? You’ve poured your heart into reading the course, taking learning assessments, and working through the practice exams. But now that you’ve scheduled your exam, what should you do? Well, it’s really quite simple: the best way to prepare for your state multiple choice test is to have a well-implemented study plan. And you’re going to need to focus on the concepts, not just memorize what we tried to teach you. You see, the state licensing exam changes regularly and exam questions are kept secret from approved course providers. Are you surprised to hear this? Well, don’t panic. While we may not know the exact questions you are going to be asked on your particular exam, we do know the concepts you are going to be tested on. This means you need to know the concepts – not just memorize the answers you’ve become familiar with throughout the course. In other words, if you don’t know why the answers to some of your exam prep questions are what they are, then you need to go back and find out. Here are some other tried and true tips for you to follow before exam day.
Understand, don’t memorize
Your ability to do well on your state licensing exam relies on your ability to understand rather than memorize your course reading material. We could include a lot of tips and statistics about which answer option of a multiple choice test question is most often correct, but multiple choice tests will almost always reward an understanding of the structure of the test or the psyche of the test writers. Having said this, we hope that you studied your course before you got here!
Understanding a concept and memorizing a concept are two very different things. For example, with no understanding of Spanish, someone may be able to memorize the first paragraph of Don Quixote in Spanish perfectly. However, would this person even understand what the passage is about? Probably not. Multiple choice questions often ask us to make translations in our understanding of learned concepts. Accordingly, you will do better on your test by understanding the course concepts; rather than memorizing the course concepts.
Note the hard to remember and commonly occurring facts
When reviewing content and practice tests, it’s a good idea to keep a Hard to Remember Facts sheet and a Commonly Occurring Facts sheet. Your Hard to Remember Facts should include concepts and ideas that are difficult for you to understand. Your Commonly Occurring Facts will include concepts and ideas that you have deemed important due to their frequency in the various tests. Regardless of what kind of sheet system you prefer, understand that it is meant to guide your studying. Hence, while it may feel rewarding to remind yourself of your strengths, it’s generally a bad idea to include things that you already have mastered on either of these two sheets. Nothing wastes more time than studying what you already know.
Sleep is just as important as studying
Sleep is just as important as studying. First of all, sleep is instrumental in transferring short-term memory to long-term memory. If you’re planning on putting in a respectable study session, you first need to plan on a respectable sleep session. Sleep will contribute significantly to your ability to recall information on the day of your test. Even if you feel like you know the material, you may underperform because you didn’t get enough sleep. Remember, sleep is necessary for cognitive thinking ability so if you mix your study sessions with sleep sessions, your short-term memory will strengthen and you will likely retain the knowledge needed to ace your exam.
Skip and come back
It’s also important to have a “pass-through and skip plan.” This is a method used to prioritize questions, allocating thirty seconds to each question and forcing yourself to move on if you are unable to answer the question. By going through the questions and prioritizing, you will be able to see which you have answered promptly and which will need extra time. This is particularly important to timed tests; you don’t want to spend 15 minutes on just one question and leave 20 unanswered.
Don’t change your answers
Statistics have shown us that revising our already decided answers has often led us to change a correct answer to an incorrect answer. In other words, there is no point in going over your answers again and again if you are confident in the care used to find your original answer. Answer, move on, be done!
Pay attention to the words
Of course, the reading of each question is necessarily important for finding the right multiple-choice answer. Some words in the question might even flip the meaning of an incomplete sentence in a multiple choice question. Be sure to keep watch for words like Always, Except, and Never or any negative words such as No, Not, and Neither. Also, watch for those tricky double negative sentences. Double negatives are two negative words used in the same sentence that turns the or sentence into a positive. Here’s an example, “Which example is not uncommon?”= “Which example is common?”
Eliminate the known incorrect answers to increase your odds
Finally, use the process of elimination to help you zone in on the correct answer. In other words, if the correct answer isn’t immediately apparent, then start eliminating the answer you know to be completely false. This will increase your odds dramatically if you are reduced to “guessing” between a couple of answer options. Here’s how this works: when there are four answers, then you have only a 25% chance of guessing the correct answer; if you know one is absolutely false, eliminate it and your chance of guessing the correct answer increases to 33.3%; and if you can eliminate two as absolutely false, you have increased your odds of guessing the correct answer to 50%.