Managing your Time While taking your Exam

Among the many challenging aspects of taking your exam is managing your time. You have four hours to complete the exam, which means that you have approximately 1-1/2 minutes per question. The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t manage to complete all of the questions, so learning how to manage your time is essential to passing your exam.

First, when practicing in Test Master Study Mode, do NOT worry about timing! When working in Study Mode the goal is to 1) review material, 2) get used to answering questions and 3) learn how to apply test-taking strategies to the process. You should plan on answering every question and reading every rationale, regardless of whether you got the answer right or wrong. While you may know the correct answer, rationales are usually filled with pertinent and useful information that is well worth your time to go over. Start with Exam 1 and go through all of the exams sequentially in this way. Plan on this taking quite a bit of time – after all, you are studying. The online program should give you feedback on areas that you need to work on – use the additional materials that are included in your package to beef up these areas as you go along.

Your second pass through the online exams should be in Test Mode. Make sure you have completed ALL of the exams in Study Mode before starting to work, from the beginning, in Test Mode. This is where you start considering your time limit. This pass through the online exams should go quite a bit faster as you need only read the rationales for the questions you miss and do so only after the exam has been completed. Take your exams in full, timed Test Mode (this means no food, no water, no interruptions and just a 5-minute break to go to the bathroom – with the timer running). You will find that you can answer most questions in less than the 1-1/2 minutes mentioned above. Many questions, in fact, can be answered in 30 seconds or less. However, some questions may take 2 or 3 minutes to answer. This is to be expected, just as long as they don’t ALL take 3 minutes to answer! When you find yourself still working on a question for 3-1/2 to 4 or more minutes, it’s time to switch strategies. This is the time to pick an answer (really, any answer), flag the question and move on. By simply picking ANY answer, you give yourself a 25% chance of getting it right. Usually, however, people are stuck between two answers, so by picking one of those, you have a 50% chance of getting the correct answer. Flag any question that you do this on, so that you can come back to them at the end of the exam if you have time. However, it is important to never leave a question blank! You may think you’ll remember to come back, or that you’ll have time to review them at the end of the exam, but if you don’t, you have 0% chance of getting them correct! NEVER leave a question blank – not even in Study Mode.

Managing your timing on your exam is a process – good “time hygiene” does not emerge fully formed but is a consequence of careful and systematic preparation.

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