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test taking tips

Click on the sign for video tips!

  • True/False Tests
  • Multiple Choice Tests
  • Matching Tests
  • Fill-in-the-Blank Tests
  • Essay Tests
  • Problem Solving Tests

Would you like to get better grades on your exams?  The following tips will give you helpful strategies to achieve higher grades on your upcoming exams.


  • Look for key words.
  • A statement is usually true if it includes one of these words: most, seldom, usually, might, may, some, or sometimes
  • A statement is often false if it includes one of these words: only, never, always, should, would, or all.


  • Read the question first
  • Try to answer the question first, before reading the possible answers.
  • Read all the answers.
  • Eliminate the answers that are obviously wrong.
  • Studies have shown that your first choice is usually the right choice!


  • Read all the items that are to be matched first.
  • Match what you are certain of first.
  • Use one side of the list to start from and the second side to make the match.
  • Cross off items that are correctly matched


  • Read the sentence first, if there is "an" before the blank you know the word must begin with a vowel.
  • Take notice of the length and number of blanks provided, this may indicate a clue from the instructor.
  • Provide descriptive answers, if you can't think of the word, it may result in partial credit.


  • Read each question first.
  • Begin with the question you feel most confident answering.
  • Identify the verbs or words that give directions in the question: compare, contrast, classify, criticize, define, describe, discuss, evaluate, explain, illustrate, interpret, justify, outline, prove, and summarize.
  • Make a short outline to organize your thoughts on a separate piece of paper.
  • Paraphrase the question in your indrocution.
  • Form a clear thesis (statement of purpose) in your introduction.
  • The paragraphs that form the body of your paper should support your writing and understand your ideas.
  • Make sure your essay is brief and to the point.
  • Don't forget to proofread your essay.

*If you run out of time, try to make a brief outline for the question you were unable to finish.  The instructor may give you partial credit if he/she realizes you knew the material and the incomplete essay was merely a time issue.


  • Before entering class, review formulas and concepts.
  • Quickly glance over the test to assess the time it will take to complete and the level of difficulty.
  • Write formulas and graphs on your test, so if you get nervous you won't forget them.
  • Answer the problems you know how to do first.
  • Show all your work, instructors may give partial credit.
  • Recheck work.

*To solve math word problems, identify the key words to assist with determining the function that is being asked.  The following are key words that indicate the proper function to use:


increased by, more than, combined together, total of, sum, added to

decreased by, minus, less, difference between/of less than, fewer than

of times, multiplied by, product of, increased/decreased by a factor of (this one is both addition/subtraction AND multiplication

per, a out of, ratio of, quotient of, percent (divide by 100)

is, are, was, were, will be, gives, yields, sold for

*A good night sleep and a healthy breakfast have been proven to be beneficial to test takers.
*If additional help is needed at Hawaii CC, it can be found by seeing a counselor, student support services, tutoring, and inquiring about related workshops.