Read through the entire exam to plan an overall strategy
An old story has it that a prof got tired of giving this advice to students, so he made up a long and complex set of questions for a final exam. The first instruction was to read the entire test and follow the instructions on the last page. The last page had one instruction: Sign your name and turn in the test. Only one student followed the instructions and passed; the rest failed the test because they tried to answer all the questions.
Not many profs will go to these extremes, but reading through the entire test does help you plan your approach to the test.
- As you go through the exam, note which sections call for short answers, even single sentences, and which sections call for longer responses.
- Pay special attention to the items that give you choices; many students have found themselves out of time when they answer every question instead of reading carefully to see that the test called for one response in section A and one response in section B.
- If the test indicates how many points are attached to each question, plan to answer the heavily weighted questions first so that you have the most time to spend on those responses.
- If you blank out on what you know about a question, plan to tackle that one late in the test session because answering other questions may help you remember the material.