While in college, I discovered I could raise my grades as much as a whole letter by using a “tier” system on my exams.
SKIM: Read all the directions carefully. Double-check for words like “except”, “not”, “least likely.” Circle or mark those words in some way as a reminder. Skim the exam to be sure you know how many pages there are. Find the sections where the answers are the most heavily weighted. (Six T/F points are not worth skipping an essay question that is 15 points.) Sometimes, hints to essay answers are found in the T/F and M/C. If the test is all essays, apply the technique below while being sure to allow time for ALL essays to be attempted.
TRIAGE: divide the work into three categories: “tri” = “three.”)
Run through the entire test and ANSWER all the questions you KNOW now. (For essays, make quick notes in the margins and add to them as the test goes on.) While you are answering your “KNOW” questions, make a quick note on the sheet next to all other questions as you go: one mark for those you “MIGHT KNOW” and a different mark for the group that you have “NO IDEA” about. At the end of the first run through, you will have your triage done, plus you will have answered all the “KNOW” questions.
Answer all the questions marked “MIGHT KNOW.” If a question turns into a “NO IDEA” here, mark it that way and finish all “MIGHT KNOW” questions on the whole exam before returning to it.
Finally, answer remaining ” NO IDEA” questions. If the test does not have a penalty for guesses, be sure to ANSWER ALL QUESTIONS, even those you don’t know. In multiple-choice questions of four or five options, you have a 20% to 25% chance to get it right. In a T/F test, your odds improve to 1:1. That is better than 0% for no answer! Also, on essays you have left unfinished, fill in any information you have on the subject. Again, something is better than nothing!
Make sure you have attempted the entire exam. If you have a separate answer sheet, make sure your answer sheet corresponds to the questions by spot-checking every fourth or fifth question. Clean up any messy or confusing pencil marks. Write your name clearly, turn in, and wait for your happy result!