FEAR NOT THE ONLINE TEST

1. The Problem

You don’t know how to take an online test.

2. The Fix

Learn to dodge rookie errors that can trip you up.

3. How to Do It

Here are our top ten strategies:

1. Don’t wait until the last minute to study. Whether this online test is part of a self-paced online course or a face-to-face course, start a study group (either in person or online) as far in advance as possible.

2. Get organized. An open-book quiz can take longer than a normal test if you’re not sure where to locate the information you need. Having a solid grasp of the material going in is key; your notes and books should be for occasional reference only.

3. Resist the temptation to surf the Web for answers. The answer you pick might not be what your instructor is looking for. It’s much better to check your notes to see what you were taught in class.

4. If your instructor doesn’t forbid collaboration on tests, open up an instant message window with a fellow student. Take the test together and early.

5. Don’t get distracted. When you’re taking a cyberexam, it’s easy to fall prey to real-life diversions like Facebook, iTunes, or a sudden urge to rearrange your closet. Whatever you do, take the test seriously. Go somewhere quiet where you can concentrate—not Starbucks. A quiet, remote spot in the library is ideal. You get bonus points if you wear noise-canceling headphones!

6. While taking the test, budget your time. Keep an eye on the clock so that you’ll be sure to finish the entire test.

7. Tackle easy questions first. Once you get the easy questions out of the way, you can revisit the harder ones.

8. Find out in advance if there’s any penalty for wrong answers. If not, bluffing is allowed, so you want to be sure to fill in all the blanks.

9. Beware: There’s always the risk of losing your Internet connection midtest. To be on the safe side, type all your answers and essays into a Word document. Then leave time at the end to cut and paste them into the test itself.

10. Finish early? Take a few minutes to obsessively check your answers and spelling. (That’s good advice for traditional tests, too.)