Test-Taking Tips for Students Earning a Degree Online

You probably took your first test in elementary school, and now you’re an expert in test-taking. You know how to write a short essay, tackle multiple choice, and determine what’s true and what’s false.

Are you ready to apply this experience to earning a degree online? You might find the experience is different. Here are some ways to prepare to master test-taking online.

Read the Course Outline

Before you attempt any test, go back and read the course outline in the learning management system (LMS).

The course outline spells out what is expected of you during tests, how they will be graded, when a test must be completed and the maximum score you can receive. It probably will also explain what you need to do if you’re faced with an unforeseeable circumstance – an illness, family emergency or work assignment – that prevents you from taking the test on time.

If you have read the course outline and still have questions about test policies or procedures, reach out to your instructor.

Follow the Directions

You’re sitting at your computer. You’ve opened the test. You’re ready to dive into the first question. Resist that urge. 

Before you begin the test, read all the directions carefully. You will want to know:

  • Is there a time limit?
  • Can I go back to a previous question once I’ve answered it?
  • Is there a word or character limit for written responses?
  • Can I take the test more than once?

Reduce Distractions

Among the advantages of a degree program offered 100% online is the ability to take classes on your schedule from virtually anywhere. 

Find a quiet place to take the test, away from any potential interruptions, such as a library or quiet coffee shop. Lock yourself away in the bedroom and ask your family to leave you alone for a while. Put your cellphone on silent mode (or away). Stay away from the TV.

Additional Tips at Test Time

Here are things to consider once you begin taking the test.

  • Multiple choice questions: Eliminate the answers that are obviously wrong first. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, make your best guess.
  • Essay questions: Read the question more than once so you know exactly what the instructor wants. Take a few moments to construct an outline of what you’d like to say; it’s a great way to organize your thoughts before you start writing.
  • Trick questions: Read the questions carefully. It might be cruel, but some instructors may try to fool you with a question that’s worded in a way that might not seem familiar.
  • Seemingly impossible questions: Don’t get too flustered. If the directions say you can skip ahead in the test, work on other questions and come back to the difficult one later.
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