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Preparing for Objective Tests

Objective tests measure your ability to recognize information presented in the form of true-false, multiple choice, or matching questions. However, you will be better prepared to deal with the nuances of test questions if you study to the point of recall rather than simple recognition.

An excellent way to prepare for objective tests is to regularly ask yourself questions about the material you’re learning. This should (ideally) be an ongoing process and can be done with both lecture notes and reading assignments. Asking the right questions is as important as finding the right answers, and helps to develop critical reading and thinking skills, which improves comprehension and recall.

In his book How to Study in College, Walter Pauk recommends the “Question-in-the-Margin” system for reading and studying in preparation for objective tests:

Question

  • Read (notes or text) carefully and thoughtfully, thinking about the main idea
  • Write questions in the margin
  • Highlight or underline just enough to answer the question (key words/phrases)

Recite

  • Go back to the beginning of your chapter/notes
  • Cover the page, leaving only the questions
  • Read and answer the first question (aloud is best)
  • Check your answer—if incorrect, re-read/cover/try again

Review

  • When the recitation is complete, take a few minutes to casually review your questions and answers
  • This should be done immediately following the recitation, then repeated from time to time in order to keep the ideas and information fresh in your mind

Pauk, Walter. How to Study in College. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001.