# Problem-solving Tests

The single best way to prepare for problem-solving tests is to solve problems—lots of them. Be sure to work problems not previously assigned.

## Before the Test

### Review

• Go over class notes and reading. Identify the major concepts and formulas from both.
• Highlight topics or problems your instructor emphasized. Note why these items are important.
• Look for fundamental problem types. Typically a course has recognizable groups or types of problems. Make sure you can tell them apart and know how to approach them.

### Solve a Few

• Analyze problems by answering the following questions.
• What concepts, formulas, rules and methods can I apply?
• How do I begin?
• Have I seen this problem before? Is it like other problems?
• Could I work this problem another way or simplify what I did?
• How does my solution compare with examples from the book and class?
• Next to each problem-solving step, write what you did. Spell out what you did and why in your own words. This will make problem-solving techniques more concrete in your mind.
• Practice working problems out of sequence. For example, work a problem from Chapter 7, Chapter 5, then Chapter 10. This will reveal how problems relate to each other and simulate the test-taking experience.
• Work with a time limit. Aim to solve as many problems as you will have on the test within the test time limit (e.g. 30 problems in 50 minutes).
• Create a practice test. Try cutting and pasting a test together using homework as a source for questions as well similar problems from your textbook.

## During the Test

• Write down what you need. Before starting the test, turn it over and jot down all the formulas, relationships, and definitions you need to remember.
• Review the test. Skim questions and develop a plan for your work. If any thoughts come to you immediately, write them in the margin.
• Start with easier problems. Begin with those for which you can identify a solution method quickly. This will reduce anxiety and facilitate clear thinking.
• Watch the clock. Allow more time for high point value problems, and
reserve time at the end for reviewing your work and fixing any emergencies.
• Try all test problems. If your mind goes blank, relax for a moment and