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  Test Taking Skills  

There are certain skills that will help you in your college career, particularly in your English classes. Did you know that you don’t have to read every word in a textbook, that sometimes it’s all right to skim? This is only true in books such as grammar exercise volumes, and textbooks with a lot of major and minor headings. If you peruse the major and minor headings, looking in particular for the areas in which you are weakest, or the parts you don’t understand, as opposed to reading every word on every page when you are given a reading assignment, you will accomplish the reading assignment much faster.

Reading for main ideas, such as in short stories and other pieces of literature, does not mean skimming, for in this case each word may, on the contrary, be very important. When you are reading a work of fiction or an essay, be sure to carefully examine the author’s intentions—are the characters well developed? If not, is there a reason for it? What type of diction is the author using? Check what your instructor wants you to look for BEFORE you begin reading.

Have you ever procrastinated an assignment? Do you realize that in the long run your life is more difficult due to this practice? When you are given a major assignment, instead of waiting until a few days before it is due, you will find you will have much more time for a social life and other activities if you get a jump start on it. Sure, everyone else in the class may look at you strangely if you begin working on a major project long before its due date, but you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you have less stress and more time for your boyfriend/girlfriend/family, not to mention probably a better grade from your instructor.

Attending class is not just a matter of making the teacher happy. Learning does often actually take place in the classroom, and it’s up to you to be there in order for the instructor to impart the wisdom you need. You cannot learn if you are not in class. Just your luck, maybe that will be the day the teacher is covering a grammar area where you’re weakest, or a writer who could change your life. Dire family emergencies aside, please be in class 100% of the time. Also, teachers do not enjoy hearing endless, albeit creative, excuses for your absence. They only care whether you’re there or not. Period.

Extra credit work is not for geeks. Extra credit is for the savvy student who knows it will make a difference in the final grade. Do it.

Do you complain when an assignment is given, loudly, in class? Do you sigh and roll your eyes? Do you think that’s making a good impression on your teacher? It’s not.
Also, students from other cultures may think it’s okay to talk in class. It does bring some energy to the class to show that you’re happy to see your friends and want to see their wedding pictures, etc., but remember pleasing the TEACHER is your goal while in class, not pleasing yourself or your friends.

Some teachers give standardized tests in English classes. These will usually cover grammar. If you are taking a multiple-choice test and have no clue as to the answer to some questions, ANSWER THEM ANYWAY. You can’t go wrong by guessing! Think of it as the lottery.

For in-class timed essays, your anxiety will decrease if you remember to bring a dictionary and give yourself a pep talk on how talented a writer you are. Find a way to make the essay interesting to YOU, an angle while brainstorming, and the essay will be more interesting to the teacher also. And of course, remember to proofread.


Campus Information
Miami Dade College North Campus
11380 NW 27 Avenue
Miami, Fl 33167
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 Ask MDC

English Department
11380 NW 27th Avenue
Miami, Florida 33167 USA

Building 7, Third Floor
Room 7323
Miami, Fl 33167
(305) 237-1300


Fernando Lopez

Phone: 305-237-1305

Ellen Milmed
Assistant to the Chairperson

Phone: 305-237-1318

Main Deparment Number
Phone: 305-237-1300
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