Common Types of Test Takers (And Study Tips For Each)
An important part of measuring a student’s understanding of class material, tests are a fact of life for students. So, it’s not surprising that tests can also be the most stressful part of school.
Sometimes, there’s just no getting around the stress that comes with an upcoming test.
Understanding what type of test-taker your child is can help him or her learn to study more effectively and complete tests with as little anxiety as possible.
Understanding What Type of Test Taker Your Child Is
Just as students use different strategies for writing notes or learning material, they also have different strategies for studying and writing tests.
There are 5 common types of test takers: the Perfectionist, the Memorizer, the Improviser, the Stresser, and the Uninterested.
It’s common for students to show signs of being more than one type of test taker. If this is the case for your child, try the recommendations listed for the different types and see which ones work best.
If you’re not sure which category your child fits into, make note of his or her study habits when preparing for a test. You can also speak to your child’s teacher to get some perspective.
What Type of Test Taker is Your Child?
This student starts studying the day his or her teacher announces the test. This type of test taker is determined to know every answer and feels a lot of pressure to know everything that may be tested. This student has a study schedule, well-organized notes, and will spend much more time studying than many of his or her peers.
During the test, this student knows most of the answers but will become easily frustrated if he or she forgets anything. This student takes the entire testing time to review answers in case anything was missed. After the test, he or she will obsess over incorrect answers.
Tips For the Perfectionist Test Taker
Promote study breaks
Your child has great study habits, and is committed to doing well in school—which is great! But it’s important to take a step back from schoolwork every once in a while. Promote study breaks so your child has time to relax and let off some steam after studying. These breaks will help make sure your child doesn’t get overly stressed or frustrated with the amount of work he or she is taking on.
Let your child know it’s OK not to know every answer
Your child is working hard to make sure he or she isn’t disappointing anyone (including him or herself). This pressure to be perfect can be unhealthy. Make sure your child knows that not being perfect is okay—no one can know everything!
Help your child to let go of wrong answers
If you notice your son or daughter focusing too much on test scores or reviewing grades long after the test was written, teach him or her to let go and accept that it’s OK to make mistakes. Rather than looking at these mistakes as a failure, help your child look at them as an opportunity to learn something new, and improve on next time.
This is a student who can tell you every fact about the material being tested but isn’t always able to apply this knowledge to overarching concepts. He or she knows dates, definitions, and names, but may have trouble thinking about the bigger picture.
When preparing for the test, he or she makes cue cards of facts and figures but may not think critically about the entire lesson. The student excels in multiple choice and fill in the blank portions of the test, but has a hard time with short and long answer questions. He or she excels in knowledge testing questions but has a tough time with application questions.
Tips For the Memorizer Test Taker
Ask about your child’s opinion on the material
Your child already knows the “who, what, where, and when” of a concept. Work with him or her to make sure the “why” is also understood. You can spark your child’s interest about the “why” by connecting it to his or her own experience. Learning about a historical figure? Ask if your child would make the same decisions they did. Learning about science? Do a fun experiment with your child related to what he or she is learning.
Have your child write down all he or she knows
When studying, have your son or daughter write 5-6 sentences about the main concepts or topics. This will force him or her to dig deeper into the material and understand it more fully. It will also help prepare your child for any long-form questions that may be on the test.
Ask your child to teach you
Ask your child to explain what he or she is learning to you. Show a genuine interest in the material and pretend you don’t know what your child is talking about. This is a great way to test your child’s knowledge on the subject and identify areas that need more work. Plus, your child’s confidence will soar after teaching you about what he or she is learning.
This type of student usually waits until the last moment to review test material, and goes into the test relying on his or her ability improvise the answers. He or she writes the test as quickly as possible and doesn’t usually take time to go back to review his or her answers.
This type of test-taker may manage decent grades or may fall far below the performance of his or her peers. Because he or she has a “wing-it” attitude and relies only on what he or she remembers learning in class, this type of student typically lacks effective study skills.
Tips For The Improviser Test Taker
Encourage your child to review in advance
Your child may be able to skate by in school with little effort now—however, in higher education, studying and test-taking skills are incredibly important. Encourage your child to sit down and practise building these skills, and review the material far in advance.
Praise your child for revisiting the material
Get your child into the habit of reviewing answers at least once after the test is written. This will give your child a chance to revisit the material and brush up on areas that need a bit of extra focus. It will also help your child avoid a “write it and forget it” attitude toward test-taking.
Spark his or her interest
Many children attempt to avoid spending more time studying because they just aren’t interested in what is being taught. To help combat this, see if your child’s interests can be connected to course material. Sometimes even just connecting what is being taught to a real-world example can help make the material more relatable (and less boring).
This student usually has adequate studying habits. He or she studies in advance, knows the material fairly well, and listens well in class.
However, when it comes to sitting down and writing the test, the student freezes up. He or she knows the answers walking into the classroom, but will draw a blank once the test is given out. This student becomes flustered, is unable to recall the answers, and often gets emotional during the testing period. Once the student leaves the testing room, he or she feels very frustrated with his or her performance.
Tips For the Stresser Test Taker
Do practice tests at home
Test anxiety is very common, and there are many ways you can help. Help your child by doing mock tests at home on the material being tested. This way, your child gets used to being tested, but in a comfortable, safe environment. When it comes to the real test, these practice runs will help your child feel more prepared and confident.
Tell your child you’re not expecting perfection
The pressure of not making mistakes is usually what causes this type of student to freeze up. Make sure your child knows that it’s OK to get some answers wrong—being prepared and trying his or her best is what is most important. Knowing that it’s OK to not ace every answer will help relieve some of this anxiety.
Help your child get into the right mindset
Make sure your child is as comfortable as possible when taking the test. Make sure he or she is prepared, well rested, and has eaten a good breakfast. Have your son or daughter mentally repeat “I’ve studied hard and know the material; I’ve got this!” while taking deep, calming breaths.
This is a student who doesn’t typically study for tests. During the test, he or she guesses most of the answers and tries to recall information he or she heard in class.
This student hands in the test after filling out the answers and doesn’t bother rereading any answers. Once the test is completed, he or she isn’t usually concerned with whether he or she achieved a good mark.
Tips For the Uninterested Test Taker
Support the development of study habits
Sit down with your child every afternoon for an “hour of power” where he or she studies the material together with you. Be sure to fit in study breaks every 20 or 30 minutes to avoid any frustration or stress. Even quick study sessions make a big difference. And once your child sees the hard work paying off, it may motivate him or her to continue doing well in school.
Motivate him or her with a career path
If your child just isn’t interested in learning, try motivating him or her by talking about future career paths. Find out what type of career your child is interested in, and introduce him or her to someone in that industry. This may help spark the connection that school is important when it comes to starting his or her post-secondary path.
Check in with him or her regularly
Check in with your child and talk to him or her about why he or she isn’t motivated to do well in school. Your child may be dealing with other issues at school that are pulling his or her attention elsewhere. Talk to your son or daughter’s teacher and find out if your child is struggling in any areas at school (whether academic or social).
Make Test Preparation Easier
Testing time can be stressful for you and your child. Fortunately, there are many resources and services available to help your child reach his or her full potential.
Check out some of our favourites here:
How To Study Using The Spaced Practice Method
11 Bad Study Habits To Avoid… And Become A More Successful Student
How To Find The Right Tutoring Program For Your Child