How to Approach a Take-Home Test

When students hear the words "take-home test," they may experience an initial moment of excitement. Some students assume that there is no need to study or prepare, but take-home tests are more complicated than they first appear.

In fact, take-home tests can be quite difficult – occasionally even more difficult than a traditional in-class exam. Since you do not have to work under the same time constraints, your instructor may design your test to be particularly challenging. However, a take-home test can be simplified with these strategies:

Think about time 

Begin planning for your take-home test by developing a timeline. This will depend on how much time you have been given to complete the exam – you may have hours, days, or perhaps a week or more.

For tests where you have less time to submit, you should study in advance, even though you are allowed to consult your materials during the exam. The information should be fresh in your mind so you do not waste much time looking through books or notes. This study tip on how to create a good study environment can be very useful! For tests with a long lead time, you should still ensure that you have a working knowledge of the subject area. If you are allotted a week or more to complete the exam, approach it like you would a writing assignment. Research, outline, and develop your answers. This is a a great guide to the study guide!

For all take-home tests, begin preparing and writing earlier than is strictly necessary. Procrastinating is a detrimental habit, especially with respect to a take-home test; there is a great deal at stake, so try to treat the assignment seriously. Leave time to review and edit the assignment, as well.

Finally, create a schedule that suits you. If you accomplish your best work at 2:00 p.m., start writing at that hour.

Organize your study materials

Once you have a basic timeline established, start to compile your materials. This might include a book with notes or highlighted content, an outline, or a class binder. Make sure everything you will need is organized and clearly labeled before you begin the take-home test. This is a great study tip on how to organize your notes.

Another key tip to stay organized is to review the test prompt and speak with a teacher or tutor about any questions you may have. Check that you comprehend the parameters of the assignment, and try to imagine exactly what sort of answer your teacher is looking for.

Choose a workspace

While your bed or your favorite recliner might a be great place to complete certain assignments, plan to take your exam elsewhere. Ideally, you should work on it in a place where you feel you can achieve your best academic work. Find a location that is quiet and free of distractions, including other students. You can book a timeslot in a conference room, or go to an isolated area. The specific place does not matter as long as it allows you to concentrate and to be productive.

Make plans for printing

The worst reason to fail an exam is because of printer failure.

Many students assume that their personal printers will function the day the test is due. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, so make sure that you have a back-up plan that addresses technical issues. A great rule of thumb is to attempt to print your take-home test at least an hour before it must be handed in.

A take-home test is difficult by design. It should challenge your knowledge of a subject, your ability to write well, and your capacity to utilize resources. Try to give a take-home test the same amount of attention – or more – that you allow any other assignment. Remember, too, to approach it with a positive attitude and preparation. Good luck!