10.3 Study Strategies – Know the Format


Types of Tests

Strategies for different types of tests: each type has its own peculiar strategies:

Online tests

Online quizzes, tests, and training will likely be included in your learning management system (FOL at Fanshawe) and you may be required to access an online test on campus during class time, in a lab, or you may have a set time to complete the assessment outside of class time in a place you choose. Online evaluations require some additional planning to manage the technical aspects.

Go back to the beginning of the chapter to consider what you need to know about any test and then also consider the following:

  • Since these tests are computer graded, the professor’s judgment is not involved in the grading. Your answers will be either right or wrong; there is no room for partially correct responses.
  • With online tests, be sure you understand the testing software. Is special software required like Lockdown Browser that prevents you from accessing the internet while taking the test? You can learn more from the Lockdown Browser website about how to install Lockdown Browser on your own device.
  • Are there practice questions I can try to check my computer?
  • Find out if you will be allowed to move freely between test sections to go back and check your work.
  • Some testing software does not allow you to return to sections once they are “submitted.”
  • Unless your test needs to be taken at a specific time, don’t wait until the last minute to take the test. Should you have technical problems, you want to have time to resolve the issues.
  • To avoid any conflicts with the testing software, close all other software applications before beginning the testing software.

Paper tests

  • Paper tests are still a very common type of test, requiring students to write answers on the test pages or in a separate test booklet or bubble sheet.
  • They are typically used for in-class tests. Neatness and good grammar count. Remember that the professor will be reading dozens of test papers and a scanner will likely be marking your bubble sheet answers. Clear answers will be much easier to mark.

Open-book tests

  • open book with highlighted content
    Photo by Pxfuel, Pxfuel License

    Always check with your professor as to what exactly this means. Are you allowed your textbook or just a tip sheet or formula sheet? Can you access any programs online? Can you use your phone or calculator? Clarifying what “open book” means with each of your professors will help you avoid any academic integrity offences.

  • Professors often give this type of test when they are more interested in seeing your thoughts and critical thinking than your memory power.
  • Be prepared to expose and defend your own viewpoints. When preparing, know where key material is present in your book and notes. Create an index for your notes and use sticky notes to flag key pages of your textbook before the test. Be careful when copying information or formulas to your test answers, because nothing looks worse in an open-book test than misusing the material at your disposal.

Take-home tests/assignments

  • Take-home tests are like open-book tests except you have the luxury of time on your side. Make sure you submit the test on time. Know what the professor’s expectations are about the content of your answers.
  • The professor will likely expect more detail and more complete work because you are not under a strict time limit and because you have access to reference materials. Be clear about when the test is due and how to submit it.
  • Confirm exactly how you are supposed to submit your work. Most professors will require you to submit your work to an online submission folder for grading. Do not email your work to them unless they specifically request this.
  • Also, find out if the professor allows or expects you to collaborate with classmates. Be sure to type your test and don’t forget to spellcheck!

Video tests

  • You may be asked to respond to written prompts and record you answer in video format, which will mean ensuring you have the right equipment (working camera, microphone, quiet space, etc.).

Whatever format your test takes, read the instructions well in advance so you can set yourself up for success. Early preparation will help you get the tools and materials together, ask questions, get help, which will all reduce your stress.


16 Tests” from A Guide for Successful Students by Irene Stewart and Aaron Maisonville is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.



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Fanshawe SOAR Copyright © 2023 by Kristen Cavanagh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.