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Test Preparation Materials

A guide to the test preparation materials available in the OHS Library, Frederick County Public Libraries, and online.

Multiple Choice Test-Taking Strategies

  • Read the question first
  • Think of the answer to the question in your head first before looking at the possible answers. Look for the answer that matches the answer in your head. This will avoid getting tricked by a false answer.
  • Read all the answers and eliminate the ones you know are not correct.
  • Read all the choices before choosing an answer. Remember you are looking for the best answer. A choice may seem correct, but it may not be the correct answer.
  • Answer every question. If unsure, take an educated guess. There is no penalty for guessing and you have a 25% chance of getting the answer correct.
  • Take your time. Use the strategies listed. Make your choice. Then……Do Not Change Your Answer!
  • With “All of the above” do not choose if you are sure that one of the statements is false.
  • With “None of the above” do not choose if you are sure that one of the statements is true.
  • With an “All of the above” choice, if you think that at least two answers are correct, then “All of the above” is probably the answer.
  • In most tests there are more positive choices than negative choices.
  • Usually the correct answer contains the most information. If two answers seem correct, choose the answer with the most information.

How to Write a Summary

To summarize an essay, article, or book, you should not include your own thoughts on the matter, but describe the essay as objectively as possible. Use important quotations by the author and any important words, phrases, or terms should be put in quotation marks. You can model your summary on the structure of the original.

A summary is intended to highlight the main points of another writer's work. Although written in your own words, the summary does not include your opinions of the piece you are considering. Since the summary eliminates those details that are not needed to convey the major points, it is naturally shorter than the original. In general, a summary is from one fourth to one half the length of the original. When writing a summary, the way you mark your text can help.

When marking text:

  • Highlight, or star- topic sentences and key ideas.
  • Take notes on those key ideas-writing in the margin of your book

When you summarize, you might try following these steps:

  • Read the text two or three times.
  • Read the text for understanding first. Never summarize as you read the text for the first time. You need to have a complete understanding of the text before you can summarize it.
  • Before you begin to write, check the topic sentences and key words (words that are underlined, italicized, or capitalized). These will clue you in on main ideas. State your main idea and follow it with supporting details.
  • Check your summary to be sure you have been objective. Proofread to make sure that you have included all the major ideas, necessary details. Your opinions are not part of the summary. This is a recount of the ideas of another person, not yours.
  • Check your summary to be sure that you have properly documented any words or phrases that you have taken from the original using quotation marks.

Method for Unlocking Words

Use one or several of these strategies to help you understand a new word.

Context: Try to figure out the meaning of the word by using clues in the rest of the sentence, the context in which you read the word.

Sound: Try to sound out or pronounce the word. Sometimes hearing it aloud helps you recognize the word.

Structure: Look at the structure of the word. See if there are any word parts such as prefixes, roots, and suffixes that provide clues to the word’s meaning.

Dictionary: If the preceding strategies don’t help, if you are unsure, or just want to check your guess, look up the definition in the dictionary.

Context Clues

Context Clues

Context clues help you figure out the meaning of a new word. It is the most common method of unlocking the meaning of unknown words.

Context means how a word is used in a sentence or paragraph.

Words can be defined directly in a sentence or sometimes a sentence can offer a hint that enables the reader to figure out what the word means.

Definition or Synonym

Many times new words are often directly defined as they are introduced in a text.


When oxygen diffuses into the blood in external respiration, most of it enters the red blood cells, or erythrocytes, and unites with the hemoglobin in these cells, forming a compound called oxyhemoglobin.

When oxygen diffuses into the blood in external respiration, most of it enters the erythrocytes, red blood cells, and unites with the hemoglobin in these cells, forming a compound called oxyhemoglobin.

Elaborating Details

Some words or terms are not directly defined. The author gives many details that illustrate the meaning of the word.

Example: There is a third form of governmental structure, a confederation. The United States began as such, under the Articles of Confederation. In a confederation, the national government is weak and most or all the power is in the hands of its components, for example, the individual states. Today, confederations are rare except in international organizations such as the United Nations.

The reader can figure out that a confederation is a weak federal power from the clues


Sometimes an author gives lots of examples to explain a word. He likes to eat citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruit.


In some cases, a word is easily understood when compared with something else.