DETER Your Tests!

When undertaking any test it’s vital to know the relevant information that you’ll need to answer the questions on the test paper, but you need a little bit more than that. You also need to have a strategy for completing the test so that you are able to convey your knowledge correctly into the test paper and give yourself the best chance of scoring well. One strategy you could consider is the DETER method which is 5 simple steps that you can implement in your test to ensure you cover everything required.

Step 1: Directions
The ability to follow directions is essential in a test situation. If you don’t do what’s asked, you won’t get a good grade. You should therefore:
– Ensure you read and understand any instructions on the test paper.
– Query the teacher about anything you don’t understand or aren’t sure about.
Remember, if you don’t do what the instructions require, you won’t be in a position to use your knowledge to your advantage because you’ll be penalized for your inability to follow directions.

Step 2: Examine
Read through the entire test paper and calculate what you need to do. This will enable you to assess each task and get a brief idea about what’s needed.

Step 3: Time
Time is crucial in any test situation. Having examined the paper you’ll know which parts are going to take you the most time to complete. Make sure you know if there’s a different point weighting in any section of the test paper because you need to concentrate more effort on the sections where the most points are allocated. Give each question a time limit that allows for how long you think you can spend on it without getting behind, and then try to keep to that schedule. If you find that time is getting short and you’re not going to complete, even noting down bullet points that show you know what the answer is may get you a few additional points you wouldn’t have otherwise been awarded.

Step 4: Easiest
Always start with the question that you find the easiest. The reason for this is simple. At the start of any test you will be at your most anxious. Getting one question out of the way will start to relax your mind and allow your thoughts to move more freely. By beginning with the question you find easiest you are going to feel more confident about the rest of the test paper and be in a better position to clearly remember what you’ve learned and be able to apply it to each question.

Step 5: Review
Try to ensure that you have 5-10 minutes free towards the end of the test time so that you can review your answers. Read them all first to ensure that you’ve wrote the answer to the question that was actually asked rather than the one you thought was asked. If you haven’t you’ll have time to at least cross out the original answer and insert bullet points with the right answer so the examiner will know you realized you’d made an error and did know the right answer even if it’s not in the right format.

Using the DETER method for your tests will ensure that you know what you’re supposed to right, be able to time it so that you complete it on within the specified time limit, and even have time to review it!

Jane Saeman runs an In-Home Tutoring service called Aim High Tutors. Find out about how to help your student reach their full potential at

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