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Test Preparation

Preparing To Take CLEP and DSST Examinations

1. What do you already know about the subject matter of your test?

Once you have found out which test it is that you will have to take, do a quick self-assessment of what you already know about the subject. How well did I do in this subject while in high school? How long has it been since I've been involved with this subject? And how much knowledge of this subject have I retained? After you have answered these questions, and you are certain that you would need to brush up on the subject before taking the test; you should visit your nearest library, go through one ]of the many test study guides on the subject of interest in order to get a better assessment of your knowledge level on the subject. If need, check the booklet out for a more in-depth assessment and for practice to improve your test taking skills.

2. What are some of the best preparation steps to take a test?

a. Location: In preparing to study for test taking, the very first thing that comes to mind is location, location, location. Only you can select the location that would be the most conducive to your objectives. The two most common locations are the home and the library; and each of these locations has their own set of pros and cons as the ideal location for studying for your test. You should select the location that offers the least amount of distractions so that you may commit your focus on the task at hand. For instance, a person who has children may select to study in the library over studying at home; whereas another person with children may decide to study at home because it is more comfortable and familiar than the library. In any case, you should select the location where you are the most comfortable (not too comfortable) and where there is the least amount of distraction.

b. Time: The second thing that comes to mind is time. Now that you have selected where you will study for you upcoming test, you need to allocate a set amount of time that you will study. The time that you decide to set aside for studying should become a routine time schedule. Your schedule should come in two parts, first, the time of day or night that you will study, and secondly, the time set to accomplish the task. Your day-to-day study time can be compared to the marathon runner and the sprinter. As the marathon runner is a long distance runner, those who are taking classes should spend longer hours in study for their class assignments; however, for those who are preparing for a test, the short burst of time, like a sprinter, should be used (perhaps 20 - 30 minutes each study period). Which ever method is used to prepare for the test, commit yourself to the schedule that you have set for yourself.

3. What can you do in order to maintain an active study program?

Commit yourself to studying for the test. No doubt you have already committed a great deal of your time, money, and effort toward your education - and you have earned the luxury of having a choice between taking a CLEP or Excelsior test in lieu of spending more time, money, and effort in a classroom. Now is the time for you to take advantage of your past experience in test taking such as testing in a classroom setting, taking a written test for your driver's license, or simply by taking the sample tests from one of the numerous books written expressively for taking a written test. Listed below are a few suggested study methods that may help you prepare for your upcoming tests.

  • Familiarize yourself with the chapter introduction and summary.
  • Write out the key ideas or concepts in the section where you are reading, or use a highlighter in order to identify the key ideas or concepts in your book. Make certain that you highlight only the "important points." Do not over use your highlighter in any given paragraph (more than a third of any paragraph is too much).
  • If you have a cassette recorder, you may want to record your reading of the key concepts and listen to your own recording in place of re-reading the highlighted areas in your study book.
  • Treat all questions or problems at the end of each section as if they were home work assignments, and your objective is to obtain a 4.0 GPA.
  • Review your notes and key concepts on a regular basis - at least once a week until test date.

4. What are some proven mental and physical ways of overcoming pre-test anxiety?

Many test takers have experienced some degree of pre-test anxiety regardless of how well they have prepared for the test. In fact, pre-test anxiety is so common; you can find a large array of books that have been written on the subject and what test experts suggest to help you overcome your anxieties. Therefore, we suggest that you learn as much as you can about the test rules before your test date. We have compiled a short list of recommended ways that might prove helpful to you in reducing your pre-test anxieties.

  • Contact your test administrator with your list of questions about the test (time of test, amount of time allowed to complete the test, score needed to pass, etc.).
  • Take as many self-diagnostic tests on your chosen subject as possible.
  • Strengthen your weak areas by reading the summaries that other writers have written on the subject.
  • Review your study notes on a regular basis (two or three times a week).
  • Get a good night's sleep (no last minute cramming).
  • Arrive to the test site at least half an hour early.
  • Bring a photo ID, your completed admission form, if required, and a check or money order to cover the cost of the test.
  • Do not take a calculator, books or notes into the test room, unless given permission to do so.
  • Read all test instructions carefully and listen to the test proctor's directions.
  • Ask for help before the test begins. If you need help after the test begins, raise your hand and the test proctor will assist you.

5. What are some tips for taking multiple-choice exams?

  • Read the entire question and all the answer choices provided for each question.
  • Look for such key words in the test question as all, always, never, none, and only, which tells you that you should select the same exclusive type of statement from the given choices.
  • Look for other key words such as often, rarely, seldom, and may, which indicate that you should select the same inclusive type of statement from the given choices.
  • Eliminate the obviously wrong answers before considering which answers are correct.
  • Double-check the possible correct answers, and eliminate those which may be only partially correct.
  • Allow yourself about one minute to answer each question.
  • If you do not know the answer to a question, put a question mark (?) next to its number and move on to the next question.

If you complete the test and there is still time remaining, go back over your unanswered questions. If you still do not know the answer, then guess.

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