A Primer on Testing Protocol

Here are a few reminders for students when taking a test, especially if you are in PreAP, AP, or college-level course.

Some preliminary vocabulary:

  • proctor: the person administering the exam, often your professor/instructor/TA
  • TA: teaching assistant
  • exam: the test, quiz, assessment, etc.
  • standardized: same assessment, same testing conditions
  • write: some professors have you “write” exams, using a blue book
  • blue book: a thin composition note book

1. Arrive on time.

Arriving on time ensures that you will have the maximum time to finish. Remember that no extra time is given when you are late. And if you are going to miss an exam or be late, you must okay it with the professor/instructor prior to just not showing up.

2. Study before the test.

The best time to study for a test is not moments prior to the instructor’s distributing the exam and testing materials. That’s a pretty amateurish move that screams high school student… Would you train for a marathon by running a few wind sprints just before the start of the race? Of course not.

3. Stay in your seat.

Under no circumstances should you ever leave your seat during the administration of an exam. If you have a question, raise your hand, and let the proctor come to you. If the proctor does not see your hand up, excuse yourself and say the proctor’s name (i.e., ahem, Dr. Noggin?). And for heaven’s sake, take care of your potty needs prior to the testing period. Not that you would, but when a student leaves the testing site, he or she could be using technology to look up answers. Some state license exams even have armed guards present. Testing is serious business.

4. Do not ask for help.

Clarification questions are fine. If you think you’ve spotted a typo, fine. Examples of what not to ask during a test:

  • What’s the definition of ____________? (You’re in a college course; learn college vocab!)
  • What exactly is being asked here? (Don’t then start talking out loud about possible answers! Study so that you are familiar with the very distinctions and nuances that the question is probing.
  • Did you mean ____________? (Yes, or I would not have written ________.)
  • What do we do if we’re finished? (Duh? Check your answers. Don’t be lazy. You have to be here until the period ends anyway…)

5. You are in a house of education. Act accordingly.

These protocols may require you to check your ego at the door. If you’re in a college-level course, expect college-level testing conditions. This may require a paradigm shift; students do not make the rules in college. Unlike your fave YA drama on television, teens are not witty sages who routinely outwit educated adults with their sublime intellect.

Bottom line? Think before you speak or move. On the mind should not be instantly on the mouth or out of the seat. If it’s a challenging exam, give it a moment to ruminate. You’ve been conditioned by the relentless pursuit of leisure. But chances are you know a lot more than you think! Relax, be patient, and let your mind work.