Posted by: thebylog | February 10, 2005

Test-Taking Strategy

I’ve never plugged Vernon’s blog, which I will do now. He’s a conservative Mennonite Biology major who wants to be a doctor. Of course, I can identify with him, being a student and a Mennonite and all. He posts interesting stuff, check it out.

He commented on my last post, and as I was replying to it, I realized it was getting a bit long for a comment and besides I like talking Test-Taking Strategy. So here’s how I take a test.

When I go through a test initially, I do the problems I can quickly see how to solve and skip the rest (after giving them a little thought). Then I start over, sometimes checking over the ones I’ve done (depending on how the time looks), but primarily focusing on those that stumped me the first time around. I repeat this process until all problems are solved to satisfaction.

Of course, there are potential problems with this: 1) What if you take too long on the initial run-through, and thus can’t repeat this cycle enough times? This happened this morning on my test. 2) Or what if you just can’t solve a problem to satisfaction even after staring at it for a long time?

But generally, this is a great test-taking strategy for me because I’m a slow starter, so doing it this way allows me to confidently get stuff down on paper and allowing me to collect myself for the harder ones. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked, befuddled, at the opening question, passed it over, and eventually come back to it and solve it. I think I may have been able to do that on this test too, if I would have had maybe 10 more minutes. Maybe, it’s hard to tell.

I think, Vernon, I’m closest to a 3.



  1. Ah! Tests! I hate them before and love them afterward. I dread them because I rarely have the time I need to study, and I’m a bit of a worrier… but even in the middle of the test and definitely afterward, I pause and say to myself, “You know? I love this!” I think it’s the challenge.

    I’m a definite 3, though which problems I do first depends on the difficulty of the test. If I’m confident, I do the hard ones first–pick out those toughies. If it’s questionable, I fly through the easy ones, do the hard ones, then (hopefully) check the whole thing. It’s weird how something like this can get me going–tests? Sure I dread them, but the delight of knowing you’ve conquered and proven that you can think…

    I’ve just transferred from a 2-yr. school to Frostburg State, and I got my first graded writing assignment back. It was fine, but…it’s like I told one of my professors from the 2 yr. school: “I wasn’t certain if I wanted to kick and scream over the lowly _% or laugh with the delight of the challenge–the gauntlet thrown down.”

    No challenge–that’s why I hate apathy in professors, I guess. Oh well. school is fun.

  2. you know what I just realized? My comment was ’bout as long as your post that was too long to be a comment! I thought that was half funny, but if rudeness = long comments, please pardon…

  3. Not rude, and really Lori, we sound a whole lot alike. “The Challenge” really plays a large part in why I like being a student. This phenomenon, interestingly enough, has also served as a guiding force in my academic career – I want to go where I feel and know I’ll be challenged. This could happen in most any field I suppose, but for whatever reason, I’ve chosen the technical as being most obviously challenging, and thus most obviously fulfilling. I have found that these two things are directly related (“positively correllated” to put it in statistical terms) in my experience.

  4. Byran, have you ever thought of what will happen after school? will the challenge ever “run out”? At what point will the technical become mundane?

    For me, the last stretch at the 2-yr. school was getting boring, and I was restless–small school, the professors knew me and if anything thought I was smarter than I am, and well, there were few challenges left. It was time to move on. I was thrilled about FSU–the first day I was on a high. But it’ll turn out to be similar, I’m sure. And yeah, I’ll eventually shoot for a doctorate, but one can go only so far.

    I am passionate about my field(s), but I can’t live on the challenge I find there. I’m dating, so I’ve been forced to think about all the “what if”s, and I’ve been frightened to think that I’ve been living on challenge–is it intoxicating? Is it addictive? What if I’d go to back to a “normal” life–would I drop, deflate, collapse without the challenge of the new and different? Isn’t it superficial to have a life built on challenge? What if it’s an unhealthy symbiotic relationship?

    It’s good long comments aren’t crimes.

  5. Ok, I guess it’s only fair if I comment and fess up now. I am a definite 2. I may look back over my test to make sure I have answered all the questions, but I rarely change my answers unless a light bulb comes on and I realize how to do the problem. I’ve ruined myself before by second-guessing my first guess. For myself, my first guess on a don’t-know problem appears to be my best.
    However, there have been times that I wasn’t sure about it and ended up changing like 10 answers on a final. All for the better…
    That was an answer to prayer. Serioulsy.

  6. Isn’t it just thrilling when something “comes,” and you know (somehow) that it came because of that arrow prayer you just sent?

    I was horrified, once, to realize that I wanted to figure the toughest problems out on my own–without praying. I thought that one through and have now found great joy in crediting and praising and delighting in God for the ability He’s given me to think. so whether He’s performed a definite miracle or He’s let me figure something out on my own (such fun), it’s because of him.

  7. I’ll have to think about this “challenge being potentially harmful” idea. I’ve never really considered this particular thought, I guess I’ve just viewed liking “The Challenge” as something God-given. Like, He’s directing me by what He has put inside of me.

  8. Yeah–God does sometimes “put it inside,” but there’s always the exception that proves the rule. I’m just, as anita would say, troubled–and probably need to stop thinking too hard.

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