Bill Kirby

Online news editor for The Augusta Chronicle.

Back-to-school blues? Here are some test-taking tips

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The things we know best are the things we haven’t been taught.

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– Luc de Clapiers

School has started for some and is looming for others, which means it’s time for classwork, homework and tests.

Sorry, kids. That’s just the way it is.

Let me help. Hang around the hallways in any public school long enough and you’ll hear all the methods of successful test-taking, most of them as old as Aristotle.

Here are a few.

First, read the instructions. Figure out what you know and what you’re guessing. Set priorities. Get the easy stuff done.

Second, don’t shy away from essay questions. They can save you. Don’t think of it as filing a report at the end of an exhaustive exercise in scholarship, think of it as launching a voyage of discovery. Who knows? Maybe you’ll come across the needle of an idea. Few teachers of good conscience would flunk you if you can find a way to discuss a subject on page after page after page.

Thirdly, don’t rush. Fourth, stay the course. Usually your first instinct is correct, so don’t go back and change your answers … unless they’re wrong.

Fifth, make up time on the true-false sections. Many swear the Two-Finger Theory improves true-false scores.

Here’s now it works: Designate one finger for true and one for false. Casually rap the fingers on your desk corner at the same time. The one that hurts or “stings’’ is the correct answer (Guaranteed accurate 50 percent of the time.)

Sixth, don’t forget the Multiple Choice Maxim. On the standard four-answer multiple choice question, usually two answers are obviously wrong.

So again, you’re down to only two choices. You have the opportunity of the “Two-Finger’’ method (see above) or you can hedge your bets. If one of the remaining two answers is “A,’’ don’t select it. The answer is almost never “A.’’

Finally, look out for “none of the above,’’ or “all of the above’’ as answers. Few things in life are without hope, just as few things are absolute.

But everything in life is a test.

FORMULA FUN: What’s a test without some math. Remember these.

Economics 101

Smart boss + smart employee = Profit

Smart boss + dumb employee = Production

Dumb boss + smart employee = Promotion

Dumb boss + dumb employee = Overtime

ROMANCE ARITHMETIC: True Love graduate studies

Smart man + smart woman = Romance

Smart man + dumb woman = Affair

Dumb man + smart woman = Marriage

Dumb man + dumb woman = Pregnancy.


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