Preparing for a test can be an agonizing experience. There are just so many things you have to remember, so many things to memorize and so many things to read. One way of making preparation for a test easier is to understand the type of the test that will be taking. How to prepare for a test can be much easier to answer when you know what type of test to prepare for.

If you are taking a standardized test, there will most likely be multiple choice as well as an essay question. Here are some tips on how to study for these two types of questions.

General Tips:

Identify key ideas. By identifying key ideas you are able to assign headings or keywords for important information. Key ideas are literally, the key to understanding and recalling the main thrust of the course. You can think of the key idea as the thesis statement or the summary.

Understand important information. By understanding, we mean rereading your notes to fill in the gaps in the information. After that, expound on the main idea in your mind. Articulate as much information about the key ideas as you can.

Organize main ideas as headings and include supporting information. This will help you quickly absorb the main ideas and the supporting information by keeping them short and easy to recall.

Tips for Preparing for Multiple-Choice Type of Questions:

The most important thing to do in preparing for a multiple choice exam is by acquainting yourself to this test type. The best way to do this is by finding sample tests and taking them.

Develop a device that will help you save time when you take the test. The one check, two check system can be useful. One check is placed before the questions that you can’t seem to remember the answer to, two checks for questions that are quite long and that will take much of your time. Mark an answer on the answer sheet, then after the time allotted, you can go back to these questions. Developing a device such as the one check, two check system will prevent you from wasting precious time during the test.

Set goals and time allotments. Ask your teacher the weight of the questions and allot your time based on that weight. Give more time to questions that have the greater influence on your grade.

Practice identifying key words in the questions. Practice makes perfect and multiple-choice type questions requires you to be critical in identifying key words in the questions. Accustom yourself to locating these key words and marking them.

Many, but not all tests, will have more multiple choice questions than anyone can answer in the time alloted. The best strategy for this is to go through and answer all the questions that you positively know the answer. Then go back and answer all the questions you are fairly sure of. Then all the questions you are less sure of. Continue going through the entire test in this way.

Preparing for Essay Type of Test

Essay questions require viewing the course in a wider perspective. Being able to effectively answer essay questions requires a clear knowledge of the relationships between the key ideas in the course. To achieve this, you must review the key ideas on a broader level and establish their interconnectedness. The emphasis is on the relationships between ideas rather than details.

Create diagrams, maps and visual representations of the relationships between ideas. This will help you recall the concepts and relationships more easily.
Acquaint yourself with the keywords. Keywords in the question are composed of several action words. These words must not be mistaken as interchangeable because one is not the same as the other. Each keyword also requires certain answers that cannot full satisfy another keyword. Such keywords as identify, compare, argue, explain and assess.

Identify different ways of connecting the answer to the question. Here are a few different ways to connect the question and the answer. Compare the two by illustrating the differences and similarities between ideas. Argue by passing judgment on a particular topic and then justifying your position. Most often, this also requires stating the two opposing sides. Explain by going beyond repeating to a more detailed discussion of the idea. Finally, assess the idea by evaluating the idea and interpreting it.

Finally, PRACTICE. Practice, practice, practice. Though there are some that are comfortable in taking essay types of questions, there will always be those who find it hard. Practice can make you more at ease with this type of question.

Knowing what type of test you will be taking can be crucial on how you will do on the test. Certain types of tests also have certain ways of approaching it. Multiple-choice tests require a more recall-based approach. It requires both strategy, critical thinking and memory. Essay tests on the other hand require viewing ideas from a big-picture perspective, rather than on details. Despite their differences, both require practice — a lot of practice.

About the Author

Brian Stocker is a former teacher and Psychologist. He has written widely on education and testing. Visit his website Test & Exams Preparation for information and articles on test preparation and how to study.