Preparing for a TECEP®
When a TECEP® examination is revised, its test description often changes. To ensure students have the most current test description, the College advises them to check the Web site before they submit a registration form.
In order to succeed on a TECEP® examination, the student needs specific knowledge of the subject matter and test-taking skills. Even with previous background in an area, it is unlikely that a student can simply proceed to take and pass the exam. The first step is to review the information contained in the test description to learn what will be required. The student will typically have to read several textbooks from the list of possible readings in the test description. Succeeding on examinations requires planning and preparation.
For those interested in improving their study skills in general, an excellent, practical guide to effective and successful studying is How to Study in College by Walter Pauk & Ross Owens. It is available online from MBS Direct, the College's textbook supplier.
Reading textbooks is the traditional way to prepare for TECEP® exams. However, sometimes it is helpful to read a popular work in an area, particularly if the texts or subjects are difficult. Popular works can provide an overview to help understand the related textbook readings. In general, however, the content of popular works is not sufficient to ensure success on a TECEP®. These exams reflect the content of typical college courses, and textbooks are the basis for college courses.
Unfortunately, texts can go "out-of-print" at any time. Occasionally, when this occurs, it may be necessary to withdraw a scheduled examination. When this happens, there may be instances where a student continues to prepare for an examination that is no longer being offered. If this situation occurs, the College will make every effort to accommodate the student and arrange another testing, but, as noted elsewhere, Thomas Edison State College reserves the right to cancel or withdraw examinations when necessary.
TECEP® exams are general, end-of-course examinations, and are not usually developed to reflect the content of one specific textbook. The textbooks listed for each examination are current texts for college courses with the same or similar title at the time the test is developed. But in general, many college-level textbooks are suitable. It should be noted that several TECEP® exams are based on a specific textbook. When this is the case, the information is noted in the text section of the test description. Whether choosing a text that is on the list or not, always compare the table of contents with the Roman numeral outline of topics in the test description. This comparison will identify areas that may not be covered in a particular text. If students find gaps in coverage in the texts that have been obtained, they should make every effort to locate the information in another text.
To prepare for most TECEP® exams, students should thoroughly study two college-level textbooks on the subject. The College highly recommends that students review the major topics in both books, since textbook authors often differ in their coverage and emphasis. Remember, the broader the background of knowledge in a subject, the more likely a passing score will be received on the examination.
Bookstores: College bookstores are a good source of textbooks, and often have new and used texts for sale. In addition, many college bookstores have used book sales on a regular basis. This is an inexpensive way to buy textbooks. Calling a local college bookstore in advance to ask if and when they hold used book sales will save you time and effort. Most commercial bookstores do not stock textbooks, however, many will order texts for you. If you choose this route, be sure to allow enough time to order and receive the texts, as well as time to study from them.
MBS Direct: You can order many textbooks directly from Thomas Edison State College's textbook supplier, MBS Direct. However, due to fluctuating demand for TECEP®-related textbooks, it is not possible to order all TECEP® texts through MBS Direct. To learn if your texts are available, go to www.studytactics.com. At that site, click on the "COLLEGE" tab and follow the prompts. If MBS Direct has your text, you may order it online.
Libraries: The New Jersey State Library is fully equipped to help Thomas Edison State College students obtain texts as well as with research. In addition, college libraries, of course, are excellent places to find college texts, although to borrow books one generally needs to be an enrolled student or have taken courses at that college. Local public libraries usually are not a good source of college textbooks, however larger county libraries or city libraries often will have a number of texts.
Most libraries have interlibrary loan services, which means that they will find a library that has the desired books and will borrow them for you. If you decide to borrow your books from a library, make sure you can keep them for as long as you need them. It is very important to have your study materials available until the examination date.
Using Textbooks/Study in General
Reading is such a basic skill that we are tempted to just do it, rather than to think about how we do it. However, when we are reading to learn and to remember, it pays to be thorough. The following set of tips on how to read a textbook should very helpful. The benefits from these tips can help to improve your TECEP® score.
- Always read the introductory material at the beginning of each chapter of the book before proceeding. This introductory material usually talks about what is to follow and establishes an idea of what to expect. When you can anticipate what is to come, you will remember it better.
- Always read the summary material at the end of each chapter of the book before proceeding. You may not understand all of it since you will not have read the book or chapter, but you will form a clearer idea of how the author has organized and presented the material. This will help you to understand and remember the text itself.
- If there are any study questions in the book, take the time to look at them and to see what kinds of things are being asked. Usually, the more important points or concepts are covered in the study questions.
- Be an active reader. Take notes, think about what you have read, try to sense what questions the material answers, etc. The more actively you read, the better you will understand and remember the facts and concepts.
Learn how to take notes. You will evolve your own style for this, but some general suggestions may be helpful.
- Always use your own words when taking notes. By doing this, you can make sure that you understand what the author is saying. If you can write it down in your own words, you know you have grasped the idea.
- Keep your notes as brief as they can be and still capture the important points and ideas. Your notes have to be reasonably clear and meaningful to you.
- Read over your notes at a later date and re-do anything that is not clear to you.
- Be especially careful to write down the meanings of any words or concepts that are new to you. It is very important to learn these key elements so that you can correctly interpret test questions that use them.
- If you learn best by listening rather than reading, you may find it helpful to read important information from your text into a cassette recorder. You can play the tapes in your car or wherever you have a tape deck and review the information this way.
- Test your own memory. Take notes as you study and then try to write out these notes from memory. Review the areas that you do not remember. Do not expect to remember material well after only a single reading. In order to retain learning in memory, most people must go over the text several times. Further, material that has not been read recently is often difficult to remember. Plan your study so that on the day of the examination you will have recently reviewed all of the content that is to be covered on the examination.
Taking Multiple-Choice Tests
Many TECEP® exams are multiple-choice tests. Virtually everyone is familiar with this type of test and understands how to proceed. But some basic points cannot be stressed too often.
Manage your time efficiently. Calculate how much time you are given to answer each question. For example, if you have two hours to answer 100 questions, that equals 72 seconds per question. The time you need for each individual question, of course, will vary. You may find it useful to make a little table to help pace yourself. For example, if you start a 100-question exam at 1:00 p.m. and you have two hours, your chart might look like this:
Amont of test completed Time Question completed 1/4 1:30 p.m. Questions 1-25 1/2 2 p.m. Questions 26-50 3/4 2:30 p.m. Questions 51-75 Test complete 3 p.m. Questions 76-100
Keeping a chart like this in front of you and keeping an eye on the clock should enable you to work steadily and cover all of the material.
- Postpone answers to the hardest questions. Test questions vary in difficulty and in the time that they take to answer. Do not get stuck on any one question. If it is difficult, leave it and go on to the next question, but mark it so that you can return to it later.
- Always give an answer to every question. The score for a TECEP® exam is the number right. There is no penalty for guessing.
- Mark your answers clearly and neatly. Your answer sheet is scored by a scanner. To do this accurately, the scanner needs clearly, neatly marked answers using a #2 pencil. In particular, if you change an answer, erase THOROUGHLY. Otherwise, the scanner may erroneously score an answer that you did not intend.
- Consider all possibilities. Remember that the multiple-choice question works because at least some of the WRONG answers appear to be correct. Do not base your final answer on a reading of just one alternative. Read the entire set of answer options and form a final judgment after considering all of the possibilities.
- Choose the best answer. The test directions tell you to choose the best answer, not the correct answer. If you are not sure that one of the possible answers is completely correct, you should pick the one you think is closest to correct.
- Make notes on the test book as needed. You may write on the test book, do calculations, etc. The book will be collected at the end of the exam, but it is not used again.
- Avoid clerical errors in recording your answers. It is easy to accidentally "skip" a question on your separate answer sheet and then mark the following answers in the wrong locations. Verify that the question number in your test booklet and the answer number on your answer sheet are the same in each case. Also, be sure not to mark answers to two questions on the same line on your answer sheet.
- Be careful with questions that ask for the identification of error. Some questions ask you to identify the response which is NOT correct or which is the EXCEPTION. You must be certain to see that this is what is required and to make your selection accordingly.
Taking Essay Tests
Essay tests, like multiple-choice tests, require knowledge of the subject and an ability to apply language skills. However, essay tests are different and must be approached differently. Almost everyone has experience in writing essays, but the following points may be helpful:
- Memorize an adequate set of principal facts or elements. Essay tests require the recall of information, rather than the recognition of information. You need to memorize fundamental material if you are going to create a successful essay.
- Practice writing answers to sample questions beforehand. Essay tests require writing skills. Writing skills are best acquired by writing. The chances of success on the essay examinations increase when you practice. You will gain even more benefit if you can receive a review of these practice efforts from someone who has some knowledge of writing.
- Check on the time at frequent intervals. Time management during the examination is an important factor. After briefly reviewing the contents of the exam, make a schedule for your work, allotting a specific amount of time to each essay (see point #4 below). If you bog down on one question, move on to another and try to go back later. The best essay performances come from dividing the time appropriately among the questions.
- Decide how much time to spend on each essay. Allow more time for essays that are worth more points, and less time for essays worth less points.
- As you begin each essay, make a very brief outline of what you will cover. Follow the outline as you write and be certain that you cover all points.
- Pay particular attention to the verbs in the essay questions. Words such as "analyze," "describe," "review," "summarize," etc., give you important guidance as to how to shape your answer. A verb like "contrast," for example, requires you to review the points of difference between two things; a verb like "compare" is more general and requires a review of points of similarity as well as difference. If there is an instruction like "briefly summarize," do just that. A lengthy response to a question that asks you to "briefly summarize" is wasted effort. Your score will not be increased beyond the stipulated amount even if your lengthy answer is a good one. Your time is better spent on other things.
- Be certain that it is clear to the grader which question you are answering. You do not need to answer essay questions in the order they are asked. You should answer the ones you are most comfortable with first, and then proceed to the ones you are less comfortable with. This strategy ensures that you will receive the most points. However, you must make sure to write down the number of the essay question with your answer, so the grader knows which of the essay questions you are answering.
- Write legibly. Your work cannot be graded if it cannot be read.
What Does a TECEP® Cost?