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Knowledge vs. Tests

  1. Sep 28, 2009 #1
    Lately, on my last two tests, I've found every problem to be relatively easy in the sense that I could perfect it on my homework, but I continue to make a lot of little errors that add up, and I run out of time, etc. I guess I'm having a hard time putting my knowledge down in test format...

    So I wanted to know what the PF thought were the most effective ways to study/take tests, because I'm tired of having my scores reflect significantly poorer performance than I probably could perform at.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 28, 2009 #2

    do you simulate taking tests at home?
    Find tests from earlier years, use your stopwatch and see how you do.
    It has helped me in the past.
    Good luck man!
  4. Sep 28, 2009 #3


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    Gold Member

    Are you talking about the same exact problem for both the homework and the test? Because test questions are generally much tougher than homework problems in my experience...
  5. Sep 28, 2009 #4
    When doing homework, don't be afraid to experiment with different methods, trying to find shortcuts, and be on the lookout for patterns.
  6. Sep 28, 2009 #5
    Sometimes, you just to need to solve problems ad nauseum until it becomes almost a mechanical skill if you want to eradicate those small errors. I had the exact same problem in my differential equations course and it cost me an A.
  7. Sep 28, 2009 #6
    If you know you are slow, then solve as many problems as possible until it becomes second nature to you.
  8. Sep 28, 2009 #7
    I find that if I do anything "thinking" on a test, I don't score as well as I'd like.

    As much as I wish it were otherwise, I pretty much "test" myself beforehand and make sure I go into the test as a problem solving robot, just repeating solution processes that I've done to the point of it becoming as involuntary as breathing.

    I save my "learning" for home, during some time I'm not being tested.
    It's my biggest frustration with school, but as much as I hate it, I've grown to accept it, lest my grades suffer.
  9. Sep 28, 2009 #8


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    Homework Helper

    I've found the opposite, that test questions are easier than homework questions*...

    DukeofDuke, it depends on what kind of test questions you're talking about, but I'd suggest trying to get used to the problem-solving methods beforehand so that you don't make mistakes due to confusion; also, develop ways to check your work. For instance, if you can do a problem, or part of a problem, in multiple ways to make sure they both give the same answer. Or check to make sure units are consistent (this is a big one), and other sanity checks like that. Use your physical intuition to make sure your answers aren't way off (example: finding the altitude of geosynchronous orbit, if you get 220,000 miles, which is the distance to the Moon, you messed up somewhere). Verify that results are mathematically consistent, e.g. in many cases probabilities should add up to 1. With enough practice, it becomes second nature to recognize certain kinds of inconsistencies.

    *that is, on some normalized scale of difficulty, e.g. if one were to be doing the test and the homework under similar conditions
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2009
  10. Sep 29, 2009 #9
    I agree, test yourself on occasion for fast response. My wife (teacher) believes strongly in speed prep (my term) and we use the method with our kids quite often.

    However, make sure you take adequate time to review and understand any problems that you struggle with or miss.
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