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Part of Western Governors University

December 21, 2010

Online University Experience

Five test-taking tips for online college students.

Blog edited and republished in November, 2017.

Student taking a test

Online university students often find that there are many positives to attending college via the internet. While there are many pros to online college, taking online tests can seem very daunting. It can feel overwhelming to know what things to study, how best to prepare, and how to focus during the actual test. Luckily, there there are a few simple testing strategies you can use to ensure you do your best. Take a look at five test taking
tips we offer for online university students that will help them prepare, and succeed, when it comes to testing.

1. Re-read directions and word problems. This may be an obvious statement, but many students lose test points because they misunderstand the questions. Take time to re-read your directions before choosing your answers. It is also valuable to go back and re-read the question after you have answered. It’s important to be on the lookout for keywords such as not, always, sometimes, most, least, etc. These words sometimes change a question’s meaning—and the correct answer—and can be easy to miss. When taking tests for your online courses, be sure to fully understand the questions and each of the answers.   

2. Don’t waste time. If you are stuck on a test question, keep going and come back to it later. Maintaining a steady rhythm is important when taking a test, especially when that test has time constraints. Answering simpler questions first allows you to build confidence and get an overview of the test material. There are also many instances when later questions will help you answer earlier questions, so going back to those questions later may help you get them right.

3. Eliminate answers. When answering a multiple-choice question, one or two answers are typically very similar in content or just don’t fit. Disregard the incorrect answers and focus on your remaining choices. The process of elimination can usually help you get to the correct answer more easily than just focusing on which one is right. Identifying wrong choices makes it easier for you to really think about the potentially correct choices.

4. Condense the content. Test questions can sometimes be long and complicated. If you are having trouble finding the answer with the supplied language, summarize the question in your own words to better relate to the content. You can also look at the answers for clues about what the question is asking. There are many options to help ensure that the content of the questions is fully understood.

5. Review, review, review. Before submitting your test, make sure you review your work by:

  • Verifying your answers are correct.
  • Making sure no questions are left blank.
  • Linking related questions to ensure your answers are consistent.
  • Proofreading essay answers to correct for spelling and grammar.

Online university courses and tests can sometimes feel overwhelming. It doesn’t need to be this way! Degree programs like those offered at Western Governors University are designed to help you learn and succeed. And using test taking strategies such as these will help you feel more confident, and better prepared when it comes to studying for tests, and taking them.

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