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1. Write your own test.  This is most effective if done soon after each lecture/reading, while the material and instructor's emphases are still fresh on your mind and while there is time to clarify anything you don't understand.

  • Write your questions on one (or more) sheet(s).
  • Convert all material you will be held responsible for knowing into numbered test questions.
  • Ask "small" questions (e.g., "Where are genes located?"), not "big" questions (e.g., "Explain genetics").
  • Ask recall, synthesis, and application questions.  Try to include questions you think the instructor will ask.
  • Write complete, accurate, and concise answers on separate sheet(s).  Make sure you understand the answers you write, and clarify anything you don't understand.
  • 2. Take your test.
  • Take your answer sheet(s) and put it in another room (this is important).
  • Take out a blank piece of paper, and answer all your questions as completely, accurately, and concisely as you can.
  • 3. Grade your test
    • Retrieve your answer sheet(s), pretend you are the instructor, and grade your answers.  Record grade at top.
    • Indicate on the Question sheet, which answers you missed.
    • It is important to note here that you likely will fail your test the first time, and that is okay, because you are going to learn more and miss less each time you take your test.
    4. Retake the Test, emphasizing those questions you missed.

    5. Repeat this process until you are satisfied with your score.  Acing your own test the morning of your actual test is a great confidence-builder (and reduces test anxiety too!).


    1. Effective: because it is always best to practice what you actually are going to have to do.

  • Your instructor is going to ask you to write complete, accurate, concise answers to questions, so practice doing this and continuously evaluate your success at it.
  • Many students study for tests by rewriting and reading their notes (multiple times), but your instructor is not going to evaluate you on your ability to rewrite and read your notes.
  • 2. Efficient: because your studying is always focused.
  • You are always "mind-on."  You are writing the whole time you are studying so it is harder for your mind to wander.
  • You are interruptible.  By constantly writing, you always know where you've been and where you're going.
  • You are focused.  Because you always know exactly what you do know and don't know, you focus your studying on what you don't know.

    1. You put the answers on separate sheets of paper and put your answers in a different room to keep yourself from looking at the answers (cheating) as you take your test.
    2. You actually assign a grade to each question and your overall test so that you can learn to look at your answers through the eyes of your instructor.  This will improve the quality of your answers, and it will give you a clearer idea about what you know and don't know.
    3. This method takes time, but only exactly as much time it takes to do well on the test.


    Come with confidence! You should be thinking, "I dare the instructor to put a question on the test for which I don't know the answer." This can make all the difference!

    Read directions carefully; look through test to help you with timing.

    Multiple Choice Questions:

    • Cover the choices before reading the question to prevent confusion or being swayed.
    • Read the question carefully
    • Write the answer in the margin
    • Find the choice that best matches your answer

    Essay Questions

    • Read the question carefully
    • Jot down notes to yourself in the margin
    • Answer the question asked
    • Answer the question directly
    • Answer the question concisely. Review your answers, imagining you are the instructor reading another student's answers (here is where grading your own study tests helps).

    Ask the instructor for clarification when necessary.