ImpROOve test taking skills

By Sofia Syed, Arts & Life Editor

People often underestimate what is expected at a college level. Students who enter college with the mentality that it will be similar to high school might struggle with their grades.

UA’s Counseling and Testing Center has been holding college survival workshops to help students better prepare for classes and exams.

An ‘Improve your Test Taking Skills’ workshop was held yesterday by Gregory Robinson, senior associate director of the Counseling and Testing Center.

Robinson lectured from a PowerPoint on how to improve testing skills; approach multiple choice, essay, and math questions; and gave reasons why one might struggle with tests. He also used multiple analogies as examples so the audience could better understand his points.

Robinson started off by addressing how high school is different from college, saying there are different levels of learning associated with each. In high school, students focus on recognition and recall; however, in college, students have to know recognition, recall, understanding and use – which can be challenging.

Freshman Alaina Gardella took this workshop because she noticed the difficulty difference between high school and college.

“I’m a freshman so college is a lot different from high school,” Gardella said. “I didn’t think that it would be much different but I’m kind of struggling right now, so I’m hoping I improve.”

Robinson said studying for an exam requires lots of organization—that if one is aware they have a test in one month, the appropriate time to start studying is that same day. Robinson meant one should try to understand the information and review every day, and then the week prior to the exam, one should then learn items that need to be memorized.

By that method, when an exam approaches, a student will understand the full concept and be able to apply it versus cramming and then drawing a blank on a test.

Robinson stressed the notion that cramming is a bad method of studying.

He used the analogy that if he gave two people the same boxes and one person had five hours to unpack, and the other had five days to pack, the person who had five days would know where things were placed. One might realize they unpacked something, Robinson said, but the person who only had five hours will not exactly remember where objects were placed.

This analogy applies to a test because if someone crams, they know they read the information somewhere but cannot apply it anywhere, Robinson said.

For someone to be successful at studying for a test, they have to schedule studying into their day.

Robinson gave some tips, including to study in a place that is quiet and to study with a friend.

Robinson also said when studying with someone, it should be a review, and neither participants should be going over the information for the first time.

For essay questions, Robinson recommended that one write a small outline because professors look for specific content and it’s a better way to present a concise and straightforward answer.

Robinson’s suggestion for multiple choice questions is to eliminate the wrong choices and stay with the first instinct, because that is often correct.

“People who go back and change answers tend to score lower,” Robinson said.

The next academic performance workshop, “Good Sleep and Academic Performance,” will be held on Nov. 6. at 11 a.m. in Simmons Hall Room 306. To see which other workshops are avaliable through the Counseling Center, visit: