Test Preparation

There are six major kinds of reading comprehension questions.

  • Main Idea- Questions that ask for the central thought or significance of the passage.
  • Specific Details- Questions that asks for explicitly stated ideas.
  • Drawing Inferences- Questions that asks for a statement’s intended meaning.
  • Tone or Attitude- Questions that test your ability to sense the emotional state of the author.
  • Context Meaning- Questions that ask for the meaning of a word depending on the context.
  • Technique- Questions that ask for the method of organization or the writing style of the author.

When you take a test, you are demonstrating your ability to understand course material or perform certain tasks.  Successful test taking avoids carelessness. These suggestions may help you avoid careless errors!


  • Analyze how you did on a similar test in the past
    Review your previous tests, and sample tests, especially when studying for the final exam.
    Each test prepares you for the next:  the more tests you take, the better you will develop your test taking strategies.
  • Arrive early for tests
    Before a test, list everything you will need for it that is allowed.
    (pencils/pens, calculator, dictionary, watch, etc.) 
    Good preparation helps you focus on the task at hand
  • Be comfortable but alert
    Choose a good spot in the room and make sure you have enough space to work,
    maintain comfortable posture in your seat, but don't "slouch"
  • Stay relaxed and confident
    Keep a good attitude.
    Remind yourself that you are well-prepared and are going to do well. 
    If you find yourself anxious, take several slow, deep breaths to relax
    Don't talk about the test to other students just before entering the room: their anxiety can be contagious

Test Taking:

  • Read the directions carefully
    This may be obvious, but it will help you avoid careless errors
  • If there is time, quickly look through the test for an overview
    Note key terms, jot down brief notes
    If you can, mark the test or answer sheet with comments that come to mind.
    Ask if that is permitted!
  • Answer questions in a strategic order:
    1. Answer easy questions first
      to build confidence, score points, and mentally orient yourself to vocabulary, concepts, and your studies.  It may also help you make associations with more difficult questions.
    2. Then difficult questions or those with the most point value
      With objective tests, first eliminate those answers you know to be wrong, or are likely to be wrong, don't seem to fit, or where two options are so similar as to be both incorrect.
      With essay questions, broadly outline your answer and sequence the order of your points.
  • Review:
    Resist the urge to leave as soon as you have completed all the items

    Review your test to make sure that you
    • have answered all questions
    • did not mis-mark answers
    • did not make simple mistakes
Proofread spelling, grammar, punctuation, decimal points, etc.

Change answers to questions if you made a mistake, or misread the question
or if you find information elsewhere in the test that indicates that your first choice is incorrect

Decide on and adopt study strategies that work best for you
Review your test preparation and identify those habits that worked well and replace those that don't!