You can download a newly revised copy of this here: Tips for taking Multiple Choice Tests
PART A- STUDYING
1. Organize the material in your head as you learn it:
1. What do I already know about this topic?
2. What is the BIG PICTURE?
3. Use your material in different ways. Here are some of the common TYPES of test item questions by task:
What is the definition of this?
What is an example of this?
What are the different types of this?
What is this related to?
How is this significant?
What else is this like?
What caused this/ What happened because of this?
Who did this?
Why/When did this happen?
What is the pattern or trend?
2. Take good class notes, and study them carefully! BOIL IT DOWN TO THE ESSENCE!
Before the test, paraphrase and summarize your material. Make flash cards of the specific terms, which are lower level thinking (basic recall) items. Organize your information according to topic or time period, in the case of history class. Make a picture mentally, if you can.
Create a hook for remembering the information: When you are 18, you can’t drink legally– the 18th Amendment outlawed alcohol sales and consumption in the US. When you are 21, you can legally drink–the 21st Amendment legalized the sale and consumption of alcohol again.
Fit this new knowledge into the framework of previous knowledge. Ask yourself: How does this relate to what I already know?
3. Increase your vocabulary throughout the year, and
use the internet to look up terminology specific to the content area you are getting ready to be tested over. For instance, I had to take a test that included a section on microeconomics, which I had not studied in several years. Plus, I only found out I had to take this test two days before it was given. So I went onto the internet and searched for “microeconomics terminology” and “microeconomics glossary.” I then studied off those lists and definitions. I then recognized and understood almost every term used in that section of the test when I actually took it.
4. Pay attention to the subareas or themes on the test. For instance, in AP US history, search for “AP US history themes” and you might find something like, say, this document. Then make sure that you study the themes which are your weaknesses.
5. Space out your study time.
Say you’ve got 2 hours to study for a test. It is better to study for thirty minutes in the four days prior to the test than for two hours in a row. For the AP Test, you need to start studying weeks before the actual test.
6. Eliminate distractions.
Turn off the cell phone, the TV, Facebook, etc. PUT THE CELL PHONE IN ANOTHER ROOM! Concentrate on the task at hand and really devote yourself to it. It is better to study for twenty minutes with concentration than to spend two hours watching Jersey Shore with the book open in front of you. Be honest—you haven’t studied at all at the end of those two hours, but you have become an expert on how dumb Snooki really is.
7. Familiarity breeds huge gaps of knowledge.
Have someone else choose practice questions for you—you can do this online by using AP review sites, or you can have someone else quiz you. If you choose the items to study you will gravitate towards material you are familiar with. You can’t study what you do not know that you don’t know. Yes, read that again—it makes sense.
8. Study in simulated test conditions. REHEARSE!
Early on in your preparation, study by yourself. Later on, study with a partner or a group. During that time, you should be quizzing each other and discussing the reason why you chose certain answers on practice items. Right before the test, give yourself some simulated questions that your study partners have chosen (see 5) and then check them for accuracy.
9. Study backwards.
Study the latest material you covered first, and study the earliest material you studied right before the exam. Make sure you provide MORE TIME for the older material than you provided for the new material.
10. GET ENOUGH REST, AND LAY OFF THE RED BULLS AND FRAPPACHINOS! Eat a decent breakfast, dress in layers in case it is too cold or too hot in the testing room, and remember to BREATHE.
Make sure you sleep after each study session, because during sleep your brain will actually cement the knowledge you just added into place so that you can find it again—otherwise known as “memory.” If you don’t sleep, your brain will not create the directories and pathways to organize the information so that you can recall it.