Even if you’re thoroughly prepared for a test, your mark can be adversely affected if you don’t read the instructions closely and follow the instructions as they are written. This means that before you begin any part of a test, you should always check to see if there are any directions, and make sure to follow the directions exactly. Some things to check for include:
- Where answers to questions should be written: Your teacher or professor may indicate where you should write your answers in the test instructions. For tests that consist mainly of essay and short answer questions, you may be given sheets of lined paper and asked to write your answers on them. If there are sections of multiple choice or true and false questions on the test, you may have to shade in your answers on a separate sheet to make correcting the test easier for the teacher. In most cases, the answers will simply be written directly on the test paper or booklet.
- Whether you need to pass in scrap paper and/or rough drafts: If you’re asked to write an essay or complete calculations on a test, the teacher may request that you submit all of your rough work. It probably won’t be graded directly, but the teacher might review it to get an idea of your writing or problem-solving method, and he or she may even take your process into consideration when assigning a grade.
- Whether word counts or lengths for essay questions and short answers are indicated: Sometimes, teachers and professors will offer a suggested length for essay and short answer questions. This information is very valuable because it will help you to ensure that you provide adequate detail about the topic without going overboard. The instructions might tell you roughly how many sentences, paragraphs, words, or pages should be included in your answer.
- Whether you have a choice about which questions to answer: In order to give every student a chance to do well, some teachers and professors allow their students to choose the questions that they answer on their tests. As a result, it is always important to read the instructions to determine whether this is the case or not. Mistakenly trying to answer every question when you only had to answer some of the questions will almost certainly guarantee that you will run out of time, and it may cause your grade to be much lower than you might have hoped.