Mastering Computer-Based Tests

Seven Handpicked Best Practices for Candidates

A computer-based test or CBT, in simple terms, means taking a test on a computer instead of paper. Instead of using a paper and pen, one uses a keyboard and mouse to answer questions appearing on the computer monitor. Many major and high-stakes examinations in India like the JEE Mains, CAT and BITSAT have decided to go the CBT way.

The switch from paper to computers for assessments is not entirely surprising, given the surge of technology in almost every sphere of education. However, this method has attracted mixed responses from the candidate community. A lot of them still feel apprehensive and jittery about making the switch and prefer to take the paper-based assessments.

Let us put you at rest by sharing the top seven best practices for students taking computer-based tests:

Before the assessment:

  • Online Mock Assessments: Most of the high-stakes examinations are taken by either people pursuing full-time graduation courses or working professionals. They can’t go to physical examination centers to take mock tests. So online mock assessments allow them the flexibility to prepare for tests at their convenience. Another advantage is picking up a lot of crucial test skills like time management, familiarity with exam patterns and marking criteria, answering strategies, and knowing the probable questions. Lastly, mock assessments provide instant feedback and detailed analysis, which helps test takers rectify their errors and prepare accordingly.
  • Time Management: Many candidates either take on too much pressure while mastering this strategy or too little. The idea is not to stress yourself and focus on achieving smaller goals. The initial goal while writing a mock test could be to try and attempt all the questions without keeping a timer. Once you become familiar with the questions, pattern, and answering strategies, start timing yourself. In the beginning, note the time you take. Subsequently, with each test, try and reduce the time you take by small margins while also observing how much time you require on each section of the test. By the final round of mock tests, attempt to have at least 15 minutes of your total time to check, and revisit your entire exam or sections.
  • Calming your nerves before a test: Test anxiety is something that candidates across age groups go through. Speaking to peers and seniors before an upcoming test helps in multiple ways. It allows candidates to double-check any uncertainties that they might have and find solutions through collaboration. This gives them more confidence and calms their nerves before a high stakes test. The discussion also brings up various nuances and tips from the seniors and peers that the candidate might not have thought of earlier.

On the day of the assessment:

  • Arriving early at the exam center: Arriving early at the exam center has two significant benefits. First, it allows you to complete all the entry formalities in a calm and organized manner before most other candidates. Secondly, the extra time will enable one to de-stress and familiarize themselves with the exam center – the seating arrangements, testing digital equipment like the computer, mouse, keyboard, and earphones, and checking the water and restroom facilities.
  • Reading “Instructions for Candidates”: A lot of candidates may feel that they might save time by skipping reading the instructions and use that time for answering questions instead. But a lot of them don’t know that the “reading instructions” time is given in addition to the assessment time. These instructions also have some crucial points that the mock tests might not have covered or might be specific to the test center. Some exams have now also started having invigilators read out the instructions aloud to all the test-takers so that everyone has the same experience while taking the test.
  • Answering section-wise assessments: Certain assessments do not have any stipulated time attached to each section. They also do not have any designated order in which a candidate should solve the sections. This allows candidates to switch between sections freely. If you are taking such an exam, use this advantage to go through all the questions before answering, check their difficulty level, and plan your answering strategy accordingly.
  • “Mark for Review” option: This feature allows candidates to flag specific questions and revisit them later. This option might be used in various scenarios, some of which are: the question is confusing or difficult, the answer might take time, one isn’t sure of the response and doesn’t want to spend too much time recalling it. Once the candidate marks the question/s for review, it is marked in a different color, so that it is easier for them to revisit it later.

We hope that the above best practices will help you prepare for your assessments in an organized and effective manner and make you calmer on the day of the assessment.

Explore more: TCS iON

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