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WOC 469 Taking Tests

Teacher Tips and Answers


WOC 469

Student Holding Question Mark


Page 469

Taking Tests

The word “test” can strike fear into any student’s heart, and for good reason: multiple choice with multiple correct answers, tricky true/false, stacks of terms to match, and essay questions with paragraph-length prompts. . . .

Okay, take a deep breath. With a few simple strategies, you can do your best on multiple choice, true-false, and matching. And the PAST strategy (Purpose, Audience, Subject, and Type) helps you quickly analyze any writing prompt and create an on-target response.

To succeed, keep up in class, study before a test, and use the strategies in this chapter. You can do this!

What’s Ahead

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Preparing for a Test

Ask questions.

  • Ask your teacher what material will be covered on the test.
  • Ask what kind of questions will be on the test (multiple choice, short answer, essay).

Review the material.

  • Start reviewing a few days before the test.
  • Review all the material. Then focus on the difficult parts.
  • If there is a lot to cover, divide your study time into different sessions.

Study your notes.

  • Reread the material. Then put it in your own words.
  • Make lists, flash cards, or rhymes to help you remember.
  • Use graphic organizers to gather your thoughts.
  • Visualize the material in your mind (or draw pictures).
  • Recite material out loud or explain it to someone else.

Taking a Test

  1. Listen carefully to directions. Be sure you know the amount of time you have, how to fill in your answers, and so on.
  2. Ask for help. If there is anything unclear or confusing about the test, ask your teacher to explain.
  3. Look over the whole test quickly. First answer the questions you are sure of; then answer the other questions.
  4. When you finish, use any extra time you have to check your test. Make sure you answered all of the questions.

Helpful Hint

If you want to remember a list of words, make up a silly sentence. Here’s a silly sentence to help you remember the planets listed in order of distance from the sun.

My very elegant moose just sips unsweetened nectar.

(Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune)

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Taking Objective Tests

There are four common kinds of objective tests. (Objective means “based on facts.”) Here are some tips to help you do well on each kind.

True/False Test

A true/false test is a list of sentences or statements. You decide if each statement is true or false.

  • Read the whole statement carefully. If any part of the statement is false, the answer is false.
True-False Example
  • Be careful when you see words such as always, all, never, and no. Very few things are always true or never true.
  • Watch for words that mean “not.” These words include no, not, nothing, don’t, doesn’t, didn’t, isn’t, wasn’t, and weren’t.
True-False Example

Matching Test

A matching test has two lists. You match a word in one list to a word or phrase in another list.

  • Read both lists before you begin answering.
  • Read the directions carefully. If an answer can be used only once, check it off after using it. This makes it easy to see which answers you have left.
Matching Example

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Multiple-Choice Test

A multiple-choice test gives several answers for each question. You decide which answer is correct, and then you mark it.

  • On most multiple-choice tests, you need to mark only one answer for each question or statement. However, watch for directions that may tell you to mark all answers that are correct or to mark the best answer.
Multiple-Choice Example
  • Read the question carefully. One word (not, never, except) can change the meaning of the whole question.
Multiple-Choice Example
  • Read all of the answers before you mark the one you think is correct.

Fill-in-the-Blanks Test

On a fill-in-the-blanks test, you need to fill in the missing words.

  • Each blank usually stands for one word. If there are two blanks in a row, you need to write in two words.
Fill-in-the-Blanks Example
  • If the word just before the blank is “an," the answer probably begins with a, e, i, o,or u.
Fill-in-the-Blanks Example

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Writing to a Prompt

Responding to a prompt is different from other writing assignments because you don’t have a lot of time to complete your work. To do your best writing, you need to use your time wisely. Start by studying the writing prompt.

Analyzing a Prompt

A prompt gives you the basic directions for your writing. Most prompts—but not all—will tell you why you are writing (Purpose), who your reader is (Audience), what to write about (Subject), and what form your writing should take (Type). Ask yourself the PAST questions :


    Why am I writing? What is my goal? When you respond to an explanatory prompt, your goal is to explain or inform. When you respond to a persuasive prompt, your goal is to convince readers to agree with you. Look for clues or key words, such as compare or evaluate. These words can help you know how to develop your writing. (See page 474 for more examples of key words.)


    Who will be reading my writing? Look closely at the prompt to see who the reader will be (parent, classmate, principal). If the prompt doesn’t say, the audience is probably the tester or your teacher.


    What am I supposed to write about? The prompt will name a general subject, but you will need to identify a specific topic related to the subject.


    What type or form of writing should I create (letter, essay, blog post)? Make sure to organize your writing according to the form.

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Understanding Key Words

When you seek to understand your Purpose for writing, carefully check the prompt for key words like these:

Argue means “use a series of logical statements to prove a position.”

Analyze means “break a topic into its parts, explain what each part does, and show how the parts fit together.”

Categorize or classify means “sort or group ideas.” When you categorize, you tell which type of something you are dealing with and explain how it relates to other types.

Compare means “tell how these things are alike.”

Contrast means “tell how these things are different.” Some prompts ask you to compare and contrast.

Define means “tell what a word or topic means, describe its function or role, give examples, and provide synonyms and antonyms.”

Demonstrate means “show how to do something or how something works.”

Describe means “tell how something looks, sounds, feels, smells, or tastes.”

Evaluate means “judge the value or worth of something.” You should support your evaluation with facts and details.

Explain means “provide key information about a topic.” You should support your explanation with facts, examples, reasons, quotations, and other evidence.

Identify means “answer who? what? when? where? and why? about a topic.”

List means “provide a number of examples, reasons, or causes.”

Outline means “organize your answer into main points and specific details.”

Persuade means “convince the reader to agree with an opinion or take action.” Use reasons and strong appeals to persuade the reader.

Prove means “present facts and details that show something is true.”

Review means “give an overall picture of the main points of a topic.”

Summarize means “tell the important points in a shortened form.”

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Planning Your Answer

After you have analyzed the prompt, take a minute to organize your response. On a piece of scrap paper, gather your thoughts in a graphic organizer or a quick list like the one that follows:

Civics Test—Chapter 3

The United States Federal Government is based on “checks and balances.” In a paragraph, define this term.

Response Outline

Helpful Hint

It’s not necessary to write down everything you know about the subject. Instead, think carefully about the question and write down only the information you need to answer it.

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Writing a One-Paragraph Answer

If the prompt calls for a paragraph or if the issue is not too complicated, write a single paragraph response. Arrange your main points and supporting details to address your Subject and Purpose.

Civics Test—Chapter 3

The United States Federal Government is based on “checks and balances.” In a paragraph, define this term.

Paragraph Response

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Writing a Multiparagraph Answer

If the prompt calls for an essay or if the issue is complex, write a multiparagraph answer.

Civics Test—Chapter 3

In a brief essay, explain each branch of the United States Federal Government, outlining its powers with examples.

Essay Response

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Vocabulary List:
  • objective test: assessment that checks knowledge of facts, requiring specific correct responses

  • true/false test: assessment with statements that must be marked as true or false

  • matching test: assessment with two columns of answers that must be paired up

Vocabulary List:
  • multiple-choice test: assessment with possible answers to choose from for each question

  • fill-in-the-blanks test: assessment with sentences that have underlined spaces requiring specific answers

Vocabulary List:
  • prompt: set of instructions for writing on an assessment

  • PAST questions: discovering the Purpose, Audience, Subject, and Type of writing required by a prompt

Vocabulary List:
  • key word: term in a prompt that tells you what to do, often identifying your purpose

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