ASC logo

Test Preparation and Test-taking

Online Exams

This handout covers the following information in regard to taking objective tests. Some of the initial information is repeated on the Essay Test and Objective Test handouts as it applies to all test formats. Use these jump links to take you to the sections you want to access.

Assessing Your Testing Skills Photo of a female students working on her laptop computer with books and papers spread around her
Cramming: A Note of Caution
Preparing for an Online Test
Taking an Online Exam: Multiple Choice
Web Sites for Taking Online Exams
Reviewing the Online Exam
Related Learning Links  


Assessing Your Test-Taking Skills

Before launching into how to prepare for and take essay tests, it is helpful to get an idea of your test-taking skills. Here are some web sites that help provide this insight. New windows will open so please disable any automatic pop-up killers.

Self-Monitoring Exam Check List Evaluate your exam preparation and performance (Muskingum College)

What's Your Test Taking IQ? and Test-Taking: What Would You Do? The second and third choices. There re are additional handouts that are valuable to check out. Note the practice objective tests at the bottom of the list. (Texas State University at San Marcos)


Cramming: A Note of Caution

Photo of a female student writing notes. Beside her are two tall stacks of books.

Before taking a test, most of us feel nervous and worry about remembering all the information we studied predominates our thinking. So cramming may seem the best way to relieve ourselves of this stress. However, the opposite is true and it's important to know why. Below are some web sites with information about the dangers of all-night cramming.

Cramming Be sure to click on the site links to "Emergency Test Preparation" and "10 Tips on Terrific Test-taking." (Study Guides and Strategies)

Anatomy of an All-Nighter Read what really happens mentally and physically when you pull an all-nighter (University of Texas at Austin)


Preparing for an Online Exam: Blackboard Test Information

If you have questions after reading this information, be sure to immediately contact your instructor. When you take the test, you do not want to be worried about the mechanics of test taking.

Tips for Students: Taking Online Exams in Blackboard Note that the directions may change with your SWC professor. However, this site gives some universal tips to pay attention to. (Dartmouth)


Preparing for an Online Exam: Test Preparation Strategies

Online exams differ greatly from in-class tests, from the testing conditions to the materials you have available. Below are strategies to help you use your testing environment and study notes to their fullest extent.
Photo of a female student with her full attention on the computer screen in front of her.

  • Know exactly what will be covered and what kinds of questions will be asked. Practice tests, if provided, will be your best source of information.
  • Begin your study-review preparation far in advance of the test.
  • Take all comprehension checks, progress tests, and practice tests. For each question missed, find the relevant information in your text and read to locate the correct answer. Make a note in the margin using a different color of ink to call attention to this information. You need to correct your thinking, and this will require extra attention.
  • Work with a tutor to help clarify "muddy" concepts.
  • Organize your review so you have time to study everything. This includes text chapters, study guide exercises and progress checks, online lectures, online readings, summary outlines, lists of terms, sample problems, charts and graphs, practice exams.
  • Mark your textbook and online reading printouts to identify key information so it can be easily found. Your online tests are open book, but since most exams are timed you must organize your materials ahead of time.
  • Reserve time before taking the exam for a last, once-through review.
  • Take a break before starting the exam so you are rested and thinking clearly.
  • Make sure your environment is distraction, interruption free. Alert others that you need the designated amount of time to complete your test and cannot be interrupted.


Photo of a female student studying while working on a computer. She appears to have earphones on.



Web Sites for Preparing for an Online Exam


Taking Online Tests Successfully Before, during, and after the online test tips; some information is for Sandhills students only. (Sandhills Community College)

Studying for Exams Here are 5 sound strategies plus ideas for practice exams. (University of Illinois at Chicago)

The Ultimate Guide to Test Preparation Strategy This site has a bit of everything in terms of test preparation (Test Preparation and Online Education)

Pass Exams by Determining Your Learning Style How you learn affects what you learn. Use study strategies that work for you. ( (Test Preparation and Online Education)

How to Get Better Test Grades Often students ask for advice when they get a lower grade on a test than they hoped for. One professor provides his tips in this blog. (Test Preparation and Online Education)

Anticipating Test Content What's going to be on the test? (Study Guides and Strategies)

Review Tools for Tests Four excellent study tools to prepare for a test ( Study Guides and Strategies)

Test Preparation Learn why how you prepare for a test is more important than how much time you study. (Muskingum College)


Taking an Online Exam: Multiple Choice Tests

Photo taken from above looking down at a woman seated before a computer and pointing at the screen as if to focus on something

  • Budget your time if the test has a cutoff point. Keep a clock nearby so you know how much time remains as you work through the questions.

  • Preview the entire test to get an idea of where the trouble spots are located and where you feel confident of the answers.

  • Answer the questions that you know. Write down the numbers of questions you skip so you can easily go back and answer them later.

  • Watch for absolute or categorical statements in true-false questions. They are usually false.

  • Remember that generalizations are usually only partially true.

  • Read the "stem" of multiple choice questions and try to answer them for yourself before you look at the choices. Then pick the answer closest to yours.

  • Read all the possible answers in multiple choice questions even if you think the first or second choice is correct.

  • Eliminate alternatives in multiple choice and matching questions so you narrow your choice and increase the probability of a correct answer.

  • Guess at an answer (unless there is a guess penalty) rather than leave a blank—you might be right! If you have time, go back at the end and give it further thought. Use scratch paper to mark the numbers of the questions you were not sure of so you know exactly which ones to review.

  • Change an answer if you can think of a concrete reason that makes your first answer wrong.


Taking an Online Exam: Short Answer and Essay Tests

Photo of a man sitting in a chair reading information from his laptop computer. All of the lights are off in the room and the only light is from the computer screen.

  • To ensure you don't lose your answers if there is a problem with the Blackboard connection, write your responses in a word processor so they can easily be retrieved. Then cut and paste your answers into the appropriate test boxes.

  • If more there is more than one question, select the one you feel the most confident about to respond to first. As you write, the connections you make about the topic will remind you of information that relates to additional questions.

  • Budget your time well, especially if there are several questions.

  • Keep study notes and outlines within easy access. The more you organize your materials, the easier they may be utilized.

  • Notes, textbooks, and other study materials are for occasional reference only. Knowledge of the topics covered in the test is paramount as you will have little time to seek out needed information.

  • Plan time at the end of the test session to reread your responses and to complete a spell check. Make corrections or clarifications as needed.


Web Sites for Taking Online Exams

Photo of two pages of an open book


Open-Book Tests and Number Problems Scroll down to the information about how to take an open-book test. (Muskingum College)

Instructions on a Test Can Trip You Up Make sure you read directions carefully as it only takes one work to send you in the wrong direction (Test Preparation and Online Education)

Test Taking Extensive information is provided here, including just about every form of testing possible. Try to ignore the irritating floating menu! (Muskingum College) 

The Multiple Choice Exam Information located under "Writing multiple choice exams" would be more accurate if titled "Reading multiple choice exams"; excellent suggestions. (University of Victoria)

Strategies to Use with Difficult Questions Here's what to do when you get stuck. (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)

Reviewing the Online Exam

Taking time to review a returned test will prove extremely valuable. You will discover not only what went well for you but also have the opportunity to learn both missed content and better test-taking skills.

Analyzing Past Tests Determine your strengths and weaknesses as a test-taker from your past tests. (Bucks County Community College)

A Dozen Reasons to Review a Returned Test (Middle Tennessee State University)

Exam Debriefing Assess the manner in which you prepare for a test and how this relates to your performance. The format of this page is a bit difficult. Look for the major steps in this debriefing process. (Muskingum College)


Related ASC Links

Test Preparation and Test-Taking: Objective Tests

Test Preparation and Test-Taking: Essay Tests

Overcoming Test Anxiety


ASC Return LogoClick ASC logo to return to Learning Links Contents.

This site was created and is maintained by Barbara J. Speidel, SWC Academic Success Center Coordinator. @ Barbara J. Speidel

The ASC logo was created by Andrew C. Rempt. @ Andrew C. Rempt
Southwestern College