Academic Resource Center

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Learning from an Exam

If the test is not returned, ask for permission to see yours. Most instructors are willing to give you a chance to look over the test in detail. Take advantage of this opportunity. If the test is returned, save it and use it for future review.

Find out what you missed and why you missed it. The most common reasons for missing answers are:

  • Insufficient knowledge of the subject matter
  • Misreading the question or the directions
  • Carelessness in computation
  • Poor organization of answers
  • Poor time management, resulting in incomplete answers

Examine the correct answers also. There is a possibility that your correct answer may have been a lucky guess; however, even if you knew the information, reviewing the material will act as added reinforcement.

Decide how you can avoid making the same errors in the next test. Make a note of your errors and review them before the next test.

Pay special attention to the type of questions asked and the format for asking them. As you read and take notes, try to predict the manner in which you will be tested on the information in the future.

If the test contained problems, rework the problems on which you made mistakes and find out what you did wrong. Rework the problem next to the incorrect answer. This will enable you to clearly see where you made your errors.

If possible, read a few of the best test papers. Not only will this reinforce the correct response, but it will also show you what the instructor considers to be a good answer.

When talking over your test with an instructor, try not to focus on the grade. If you are not certain why a question has been marked wrong, ask your instructor about it. Ask with the attitude of wanting to improve rather than with the attitude of wanting to gain a few extra points.

Find your relative standing in the group. The score you receive on a test is more meaningful when you can compare it with the score of others.

Try to be objective about your performance. After using the strategies suggested, can you step back and analyze your performance objectively?