As the term comes nearer and nearer to its completion, students become more and more concerned about final exams.

Of course, if students want to successfully complete their final exams, they must invest ample time in preparing and studying for them. However, the manner in which they take those exams can also have a bearing on their performance during the examination period.

Below, we’ve shared three student success strategies for completing exams with confidence and competence, as summarized from Linda Wong’s Essential Study Skills, Eighth Edition. Share them with your students before you administer your final exam.

Three keys to successfully answering test questions… and completing exams with confidence

1. Read the directions carefully and thoroughly before beginning! In a rush to begin answering the questions, students may speed over important instructions; or, they may not ask you to clarify those directions, out of fear of appearing ignorant or unprepared. However, the time invested in reading and understanding the directions will ultimately prove to students’ benefit. Mention to students that, if they have any questions about the instructions, it’s best for them to ask for clarification at the start of the testing period, before they’ve spent a lot of time feeling confused.

2. Answer all the questions. Students should make every effort to provide a response to each question to the best of their ability. After all, if they take the time to respond in some manner, they have some likelihood of answering correctly or earning partial credit; whereas, if they leave the answer blank, they’re guaranteed to lose points.

3. Don’t change answers on impulse. Time permitting, students should review their answers before submitting their exams to you; through that review, they may catch an inadvertent error, realize that they misread a question, or find out that they inadvertently skipped a question. However, you should caution them against the temptation to change an answer simply because they feel anxious or pressed for time. Remind them that, all things considered, their most informed, best-reasoned answer is most likely to be the correct answer, and that second-guessing themselves may lead them down the wrong path. (Wong, 214-215)


What test-taking strategies do you share with your students? Do you recommend a particular approach to answering test questions? Describe your recommendations in the comments section. 


Reference: Wong, Linda. 2015. Essential Study Skills, 8th ed. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.