How to Take an Exam

  • Where you need to be and when, and how you will get there (early)
  • The rules of the test
  • What you must bring, what you may bring, what you cannot bring
  • Test format, how it is scored, how you will record your answers
  • Time limits
  • Test taking acknowledgements you will need to agree to.
  • Some stress is good, keeps you alert, and focuses your mind.
  • Don’t panic.
  • If you feel like you don’t know anything, or think you are bombing the test, relax and continue to do your best on every question.
  • Deep breaths can help. You could take a break, close your eyes, and count ten deep breaths.
  • Watch your time. If certain questions stump you, return to them later. Make sure you have time to read every question, as some may be easy.
  • Scrupulously follow exam rules and guidance. Be respectful of the proctor and their responsibilities to monitor for unethical behavior and cheating.
  • If you know the answer, complete it and move on.
  • Know your time budget for each question. Don’t labor too long over a single question to the point you might not be able to read all the test questions.
  • If you are unsure which answer is correct, try to rule out wrong answers.
  • Know if the exam penalizes for wrong answers. Most do not.
  • If the exam does not penalize for wrong answers, never leave any questions blank! See the math below.
  • Consider a multiple-choice exam with four possible answers and no penalty for wrong answers. A monkey can get 25% right just by guessing! If you can rule out one wrong answer (leaving 3 choices), your odds of guessing right improve to 33%. Rule out two, your odds are 50–50.
  • If you are weighing two possibilities, some researchers indicate your first instinct may be more likely to be correct
  • Forget about research about whether answer a, b, c, or d is a more probable correct answer. That always sounded like hogwash to me and each test is proprietary. Focus on the text of the questions and answers.



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John Bandler

John Bandler

Cybersecurity, cybercrime prevention, privacy, law, more. Attorney, consultant, author, speaker, teacher. Find me at