- Which questions/sections are worth the most?
- How much time do you estimate each section/question will take you?
- Do certain questions/sections seem easier than others?
With those things in mind, pick the low-hanging fruit first. What I mean by that is do the easiest questions and sections first and the ones that will gain you the most points. Sometimes these will be the same questions; sometimes they won’t. You’ll have to use your best judgement.
For example; after looking over the hour long test for two or three minutes, I see there are three short essays worth 20 points each, and 20 short answers worth two points each. Two of the essays seem straight-forward and I pretty much know the answers. The other essay looks much tougher. Out of the short answer questions, most look familiar, but there may be five or six I’m not sure of. I would do the two easy essays first, spending about ten minutes each, then do the fourteen or fifteen easier short-answer questions taking another fifteen minutes. That’s thirty-eight minutes, including the time I spent looking over the test to begin with, which leaves me twenty-two minutes. I would then give myself ten minutes to work on the last five short-answer questions and use the remaining twelve minutes to do my best on the tough essay.
This approach has several advantages. First of all, it allows you to rack up points and confidence initially. Secondly, as you are answering the easier questions, more of the stuff you’ve studied will come to mind, making it easier to tackle the hard questions later. Finally, if you run out of time, you’ll run out while working on the harder, less-valuable stuff. There you had less points to gain and less possibility of gaining those points, so it does less damage.
Finally, do a post-test assessment as soon as you can after the test. Ask yourself questions such as…
- What was on the test that I wasn’t expecting?
- What wasn’t on the test that I wasted time studying?
- Knowing what the test was like, how should I have studied differently?
- Could I have answered the questions differently or in a different order and done better?
- Did I spend enough time studying?