Junior High Student Resource
The best way to prepare yourself for writing a test during the school year is to learn the concepts well and ask questions when there is something you have difficulty understanding. Many of the skills and attitudes that are included here, are in fact, good skills and strategies for approaching exams and tests in any subject throughout the year.
(Before a Test or Exam)
Techniques to make studying more beneficial
REVIEW: means to view or look at it again.
STUDY: means to think about the work until you understand it and can put it in your own words.
Begin studying early - Schedule study time in your agenda. Multiple choice exams tend to focus on details, and you cannot retain many details effectively in short-term memory. If you learn a little bit each day and allow plenty of time for repeated reviews, you will build a much more reliable long-term memory. You have to go beyond memorization in order to make analogies or to solve problems. You cannot just be familiar with the material; you must be able to write it down, talk about it, and analyze it
Make sure that you identify and understand thoroughly everything that was emphasized in class. Pay particular attention to terms and concepts that describe important events or features, or that tie related ideas and observations together.
Frequent short breaks reduce interference between different aspects of new information while allowing for its "consolidation." So, study very hard for 20-25 minutes at a time followed by a 5-minute break (e.g., a snack, an exercise break, call a friend, etc.). After every 3 such study/short break cycles, take a 15-minute break.
Review your notes as soon as possible after each class. Not only will this greatly reduce memory loss and save a lot of time later, it will also help you to fix any errors or omissions in your notes or in your understanding of the material well before you study for the exam.
Studying is much more effective and efficient if it is spread out over time, rather than done all at once (e.g., as in cramming the night before). Spreading it out also allows for reviewing those things that you need to work on the night before and still get a good rest, which is important for peak performance.
Process the material deeply. Studying is much more effective if you mentally connect the information that you're reading. Use a highlighter to identify "key words" (e.g., terms, concepts) and underline "connecting words" (e.g., the "ands", "nots", "greater than", etc.) that are critical to understanding the context for the key words.
Material is more likely to be remembered if it is associated with an emotional reaction. For example, give a "dramatic reading" from the text material in front of a mirror. Or make up rhymes or use other memory tricks to organize the material.
Creating vivid images of the material ( visualization ) helps with recall.
After carefully and actively reading over a section, try to recover what you know about it by writing down the main points on a piece of scrap paper. If you can't remember what's in the section you just read, you must reread it.
Learn the differences between the alternatives in each question by studying the concepts - section by section.
Go over sample questions (e.g., from previous tests, or even items that you and/or your friends in the class make up to share with each other).
Try to recreate each section after you have studied and tested to see if you truly remember it.
Get a good night's sleep!
Make sure you get up early enough to have a good breakfast - before you write the exam.
Multiple Choice exams cover a broad range of material and ask you to recognize a correct answer among a set of options that include 3 wrong answers, rather than asking you to produce a correct answer entirely from memory. The correct answer is guaranteed to be among the possible responses. You can actually get the right answer with a lucky guess (but don’t study based on this fact).
Understand basic definitions and simple comparisons. Important vocabulary and/or key definitions are usually bold-faced in your textbook. Look over the Unit Review summaries at the end of each unit to consolidate what you must know from that Unit.
Be familiar with details
Brainstorm possible questions with peers.
Practice sample questions, from this study guide, or old exams.
Rewrite questions you had difficulty with – by changing the stem into the answer and using the answer to make the stem.
Use your understanding of headings to think about where in your textbook, notes, lab notebook, etc., particular questions might be drawn from. Recall a few important points about the information. Jot down any relevant facts you need in order to process the information.
The question seeks a statement as the answer, begin by covering the alternatives with a ruler or piece of paper. Then, carefully read and understand the stem of the question before looking at the alternatives. Circle or underline key words in the stem, paying special attention to qualifying words such as "always," "major," "increase," etc.
What steps will help you produce a solution.
Solve the problem. Be tidy with your calculations; many errors are made through untidy writing.
Compare your answer to the options given. If you are satisfied, fill in the answer on the answer sheet.
If the answer that you have calculated, is not one of the given options, check your procedure again, making any necessary changes, and recalculate your answer.
If you still do not arrive at one of the given options, put a big question mark by that question, and go on to the next. When you get to the end of the exam, go back to any questions that you did not answer the first time through.
To prepare for Numerical Response type questions you should go over your notes and your textbook, making lists, tables, charts, comparisons and drawing diagrams. Concentrate on understanding multi-step processes, ideas, events, or objects that form natural sequences or groupings. Look for similarities and differences as well as ordering-type situations whereby events or substances can be ranked, grouped or categorized.
Read the material thoroughly and carefully to be sure you understand exactly what is involved in understanding all the components that make up a ‘complete’ concept.
As you read each section/topic in each unit, highlight key ideas that direct your attention to the categories, sequence, steps, rank, order, grouping, list or comparison being made.
Go over examples of some of the question types described in this guide, so that your preparation efforts will be rewarded with SELF-CONFIDENCE when you write the Exam you have prepared for.
STUDY METHODS that work in SCIENCE
1. Three R's of studying:
Read many times.
Recite in your own words.
2. Memorize by learning
Read a section over until it is thoroughly understood. Read aloud with expression. Emphasize difficult points out loud. If you cannot clearly express the ideas in your own words you do not know them yet.
3. Test yourself - Make up your own test questions. Use these Questions to test yourself after studying a section. Test yourself again and again.
Make up different types of tests: (a) True/False (b) Multiple Choice (c) Fill in the Blanks (d) Essay Questions (e) Numerical Response
4. If you have access to a tape recorder, tape your answers to your "test" questions. Listen to yourself and check your answers
If you found something difficult, or you missed part of the answer, try again and again until you have the full answer in your own words.
5. Note the main ideas and organize the details and examples under these.
3R's - read, recite, review
- definitions on one side
- terms on the other
Rhythm - a rhythm often works to jog memory or a song
Trace diagrams with your finger (the kinesthetic approach)
Trace diagrams and use numbers to indicate terms needed
Use the picture itself to help you remember the word.
Re-read and repeat out loud.
Re-write - in your own words.
Reinforce - add examples or more information.
Remember - use 3 memory triggers, techniques. Mnemonic devices.
Scan the chapter - Introduction, headings, sub-headings, summary
Chunk and read - Separate into small chunks
Re-call and record - Recall from each chunk and write a question and answer that represents the main idea of the passage.
Recite aloud - recite answers to questions.
Page/Paragraph # Question and Answer
If you cannot answer the question, rather than simply checking the correct answer return to the textbook and reread the information, then try to answer the question.
Step 1 … Organize yourself, so that you will not feel overwhelmed.
Part A ... Prepare Materials
1. Collect past tests and activities (ie:. Graphing Project, Article Reviews, Topic Quizzes)
2. You will need your notebook and Lab Notebook to do some of the activities
3. You will definitely need your textbook (Science Focus or Science in Action)
4. You will need to have writing and calculating materials
5. You will need your list of Key Concepts for the Unit or Units you are covering
Part B ... Schedule Time Don't expect to do everything outlined in this guide in one evening, or over one weekend. You should begin to organize your time now, so that you will be able to complete all the activities in plenty of time to relax and enjoy life the last few days before your exam (Getting lots of rest just before the exam will help you stay focused and be under less stress the day of the exam, because you will be confident you are ready to tackle anything thrown at you).
Part C ... Take Action Review each of the Key Concepts you have been given. Reflect on which ones gave you the most problems. Begin with those first! For each key concept, follow these steps: -include textbook page references, lab numbers, activity and/or project references where support information can be found for each sub-statement of the Key Concept you are working on.
Create a concept map for the Key Concepts in the unit
Step 2 ... Locate questions from past tests and or projects that relate to this key concept. Cut and paste them together and put them on the back of the concept map page. Step 3 ... Work in cooperative groups to achieve maximum coverage, when every key concept has been covered by your group, share your work. Only those who contribute equally in your group effort should benefit from your collective work.
Step 4 ... Go over each of the key concept maps that you did not complete yourself. Make sure that everything Is included that will help YOU master that particular concept. (Some students do not need to write down information that they know, while other students need to write down everything). Step 5 ... Read over each concept map to yourself
Step 6 ... Read it over as if you were teaching it to a friend (in the mirror, out loud) Step 7 ... Go over the questions that relate to the key concept, uslng the strategies outlined.
Step 8 ... Prepare a test for yourself or a partner, that covers those key concepts that you have the most difficulty understanding. Have your partner go over the test with you and review the correct responses using the concept map.
IMPROVE YOUR MEMORY - Pick one to practice each week
Connect what you want to remember to a strong emotion through a moving story, song, or activity.
Personalize it by using your friends names and things you can relate to from your home and neighborhood.
Act it out as a skit or role play in a way to make it fun.
Present and review it in all of your senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.
Embed it in a real-life application that you can relate to and value.
Make it important to know.
Use distributed exposure - repeat it within 10 minutes, then again in 30 minutes, repeat it the next day, then in two days, then five, and so on.
Develop concrete connections and reminders.
Summarize it in words or mind maps.
Draw a picture that represents it.
Use Memory Chunking- no more than seven things to remember in any category.
Put it on a colorful, easily-seen poster and display it above eye height on the left side of your bed.
Mnemonic strategies are memory aids that provide a systematic approach for organizing and remembering facts that have no apparent link or connection of their own. Mnemonics provide the tools necessary to memorize and recall almost any information.
Acronyms - use the first letter of each word in a sentence to represent the first letter of the word/list you wish to memorize. HOMES (To learn the names of the Great Lakes) ROY G BIV (To remember rainbow colors)
Poems, Rhymes, Rhythms - use a familiar tune, substitute information to be learned: details, sequencing. In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
Chunking group bits of information together - phone numbers
Picture - use a picture to help you recall information
Name - associate the name of someone to a particular concept / phrase / idea you want to remember
(During the Exam)
Make the most of your Test Skills
Before you begin, find out how much time you have.
Ask questions if you are unsure of anything.
Skim through the whole test before beginning. Find out how many questions there are and plan your time accordingly.
Answer the easier questions first, then go back to the harder ones.
Do not spend too much time on any one question. Make a mark (* or ?) beside any questions you had difficulty with and go back to them if you have time.
If you cannot answer a question within a minute or less, skip it and plan to come back later.
Read each question carefully, underline key words, and try to think of an answer before looking at the choices.
Read all of the choices and decide which one best fits the answer.
When you are not sure which answer is correct, cross out any choices that are wrong, then pick the choice that is best.
If time permits, recheck your answers.
Double check to make sure you have answered everything before handing in the test.
Read the information given using the strategy that works best for you. You should either – look at all the information and think carefully about it before you try to answer the questions OR – read the questions first and then look at the information, keeping in mind the questions you need to answer
Make sure you look at all forms of the information given. Information may be given in words, charts, pictures, graphs, or maps.
When information is given for more than one question, go back to the information before answering each question.
Check your work when you calculate an answer, even when your answer is one of the choices.
When answering "best answer" questions, be sure to carefully read all four alternatives (A, B, C, and D) before choosing the answer that you think is best. These questions will always include a bold-faced qualifier such as best, most strongly, or most clearly in their stems. All of the alternatives (A, B, C, and D) are, to some degree, correct, but one of the alternatives will be "best" in that it takes more of the information into account or can be supported most strongly by reference to the information.
Careless mistakes are often made when you do not read the "stem," or first part of the question carefully, and miss important information.
1. Cover up the alternatives before you read the "stem" (the first part of the question). Don't select an alternative just because you remember learning the information in the course; it may be a "true" statement in its own right, but you have to make sure that it is the "correct" answer to the question.
2. Read the stem carefully.
3. Process the stem: - underline key words - translate the question into your own words - watch for negative or qualifying words such as always, sometimes, never.
4. Predict an answer. Don't pick an answer just because it seems to make sense. You are answering from your knowledge of the course content, not just from your general knowledge and logic. Read all of the alternatives even if the first choice seems correct. Don't dismiss an alternative because it seems too obvious and simple an answer. If you are well prepared for the exam, some of the questions will appear straightforward.
5. Identify the best response. Don't be wowed by fancy terms in the question, i.e., don't say to yourself, "That sounds impressive, so it must be the right answer!"
UNSURE of an Answer ?
Cross off any alternatives that you know are wrong.
Skip the question and come back to it later.
When you come back to it, re-read the question -- you might have missed something the first time.
If you still don't the answer and there is no penalty for doing so, guess. Guessing Tips that might improve your guessing accuracy include:
If two options look similar, except for 1 or 2 words, usually one of these is the correct answer
If two options have the same meaning, usually both are wrong
If two options consist of words that look or sound the same (e.g., "interference" vs. "interferon") one of these is often the correct answer
If the options cover a wide range of numerical values, a value at or near the middle is often a good guess
An option that is longer or more detailed than the other options is often the correct answer
The option "all of the above" is frequently correct:
the style of an answer option is very different from all of the others - this may disqualify it;
grammar of the question stem is not in agreement with the grammar of an alternative;
Circle words like "not" and "except" whenever you see them, to make them stand out
Usually these words are a signal that all of the options are true except one, and your task is to pick out the false option
Responses that use absolute words, such as "always" or "never" are less likely to be correct than ones that use conditional words like "usually" or "probably."
"Funny" responses are usually wrong.
"All of the above" is often a correct response. If you can verify that more than one of the other responses is probably correct, then choose "all of the above."
"None of the above" is usually an incorrect response, but this is less reliable than the "all of the above" rule. Be very careful not to be trapped by double negatives.
Look for grammatical clues. If the stem ends with the indefinite article "an," for example, then the correct response probably begins with a vowel.
The longest response is often the correct one, because the instructor tends to load it with qualifying adjectives or phrases.
Look for verbal associations. A response that repeats key words that are in the stem is likely to be correct.
If all else fails, choose response (b) or (c). Many instructors subconsciously feel that the correct answer is "hidden" better if it is surrounded by distractors. Response (a) is usually least likely to be the correct one.
Don't pick "c" every time you are unsure of the answer. You could end up picking "c" far too many times.
Don't pick your answer based on a pattern of responses, i.e., don't say to yourself, "This can't be another "b" answer as we have just had three in a row."
• OVERALL, remember that you are looking for the best answer, not just the correct one
Transfer all responses to the answer sheet at the same time, once you have marked all questions on your exam. (If you try to do several things at once, you increase the probability of making a mistake. Saving the relatively mindless job of filling in bubbles until the last step reduces the probability of making silly errors.) Be sure that you have filled the appropriate bubbles carefully IN PENCIL. Take a close look at your answer sheet - if you fail to fill in bubbles completely or if you make stray marks, the computer will notice, and you will be penalized. Erase any accidental marks completely.
(After the Exam)
Self-Evaluation - Is your Study Style effective?
Review ALL the questions – Right and Wrong. In this way, you will see what works for you and what didn’t work for you on this particular exam.
By checking over the RIGHT questions and thinking about what you did to get that answer, you are able to reinforce that strategy for future exams.
By checking over the answers in which you chose the WRONG answer, you will know what you kneed to review and what strategy didn’t work for you with that question. Try a different strategy next time. By spending a bit of time finding out where you went wrong, or where you misunderstood what the question was asking - you will be in a much better position to know how to correct things.
It’s not much fun to remind yourself of your poor performance, but the benefits of doing it can provide you with insights into your study style and what you can do to improve your overall performance. The best way to determine what's causing the problem in your particular case is a careful review of your mistakes.
Try to determine why you chose the wrong answer.
Did you misread the question?
Did you simply not know the answer because you had missed a class, not read the chapter, or not had time to review?
Could you see the answer in your mind, but you couldn't remember the details?
Reviewing what you did wrong on previous (similar) exams will pay off in the long haul.
Find out in the Textbook, or in your Notes, where the question and answer can be located. Write the page/location beside that question. By doing this, you will reinforce your learning and correct your misconceptions.
Trouble finishing a Unit Test or Final Exam?
The down side of carefully reading and processing questions is that it may eat up your time. Set progress points at the beginning of the exam and use them to monitor your speed. If you're significantly behind after the first hour, you may have to choose between speeding up (and possibly making errors) or not finishing. Don’t spend too much time on questions you're unsure of or don’t have any idea about. Keep up your pace by working through the easy questions quickly and then coming back to the more difficult ones later. Ask the teacher for more time – or, to modify the exam for you, so that you can show your mastery without losing your confidence.
Choosing from two similar answers
Remember, you are required to choose the best answer, which may seem very similar to the second best answer. If this is a problem for you all the time, you may need to look at how you're studying. This type of problem may indicate that your studying involved memorizing rather than understanding. Or, it could indicate that you need to study the material in more depth.
There's really no magic formula that works best for everyone.
Finding out what the best way for you is will benefit you in the long run.