4 Essential Tips for Acing a Pop Quiz in College

Pop quizzes are quizzes you're not aware of before they happen. But with these tips, you can feel prepared for any pop quiz that comes your way.

portrait of Dr. Samantha Fecich
by Dr. Samantha Fecich

Published on April 7, 2022

Edited by Hannah Muniz
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4 Essential Tips for Acing a Pop Quiz in College


Not many students enjoy a pop quiz, but they're often an inevitable part of school. What is a pop quiz? It's a quiz students are not told about beforehand. These quizzes are usually short and contain a handful of questions to test your knowledge on recent class material.

But if you can't prepare for a pop quiz beforehand, how can you ensure you do well on it?

The best way to ace a pop quiz is to prepare for class as if there will always be a pop quiz. This way you'll not only perform better in class overall, but you'll also participate more, ask more questions, and engage more fully in class discussions.

How Does a Pop Quiz Work?

Pop quizzes are short in-class assessments that typically focus on the most recent topic covered in class. Quiz questions can take a variety of formats, such as multiple choice, matching, true or false, and short answer.

You may receive a grade for these pop quizzes as part of your overall class grade, or they may be used to simply check your understanding of class material. Ask your professor or read the syllabus to see whether pop quizzes will count toward your final grade.

Regardless of whether they count, you should strive to do well on these quizzes. Oftentimes after a pop quiz is administered, you'll either self-check or have a peer check your pop quiz so you can see the correct answers and your grade immediately.

How Can You Feel More Prepared for a Pop Quiz?

You never know when a pop quiz is going to strike — but that doesn't mean you can't feel more prepared. Here are some everyday tips to increase your chances of acing a pop quiz.

Get Quality Sleep

Many college students fail to get enough sleep and view pulling an all-nighter as a badge of honor — but it's not. On the contrary, staying up all night can negatively affect cognitive performance and increase stress and anxiety.

Establish a routine that allows you to sleep at least eight hours a night. Getting ample, quality sleep will help you feel refreshed and ready to think critically, no matter what quizzes may come your way.

Take Notes Every Class

Taking detailed notes in class is key to helping you remember important concepts that could be tested on a pop quiz. Pay careful attention to things like vocabulary, important dates, main ideas, and any connections you've made or questions you have.

You should also take notes as you do assigned reading for classes. With textbooks, you can review the chapter summary at the end to ensure you understood the main points it covered. If the chapter contains additional resources like links or videos, be sure to view these and take notes on these supplemental materials.

You can also take the chapter quizzes or assessments at the end to see how well you understood the material.

Engage in Class Discussions

Engage in class by taking notes, completing homework prior to class, participating in discussions, and asking and answering questions. Show up in class so you can show up for yourself.

How to Ace a Pop Quiz in College: 4 Test-Day Tips

You've sat down and your professor suddenly announces they're going to hand out a pop quiz. How do you ensure you do well on it? Here are four test-day tips to help you out.

1. Read Each Question Carefully

Make sure you understand exactly what the question is asking. It's a good idea to underline or circle important words like "except," "all," "never," etc. Be on the lookout for trick questions that are meant to throw you off!

2. Answer What You Know First

You don't need to answer questions in the order in which they appear. Rather, it's best to start answering the pop quiz questions you're pretty sure you know the correct answers to.

Doing this can help build your confidence. With the easier questions under your belt, you'll hopefully feel better about tackling those harder questions later.

3. Use the Process of Elimination

Even if you have no idea what the answer to a question is, it's likely you know what isn't the answer. For multiple-choice pop quiz questions, use the process of elimination.

If you can narrow the answers down to two choices, you have a 50/50 shot at getting it right. Even if you can't eliminate any potential answers, take a guess anyway — you won't earn any points for a blank answer, so it's best to put something down.

4. Double-Check Your Work

Make sure you leave at least a few minutes at the end of the pop quiz to quickly go over your answers. It's important to confirm you've answered every possible question and didn't accidentally miss any (especially if you answered questions out of order).

If you have time, try to recheck any calculations or look for simple grammar mistakes you can fix.

Why You Should Reflect on Your Pop Quiz Performance

Once you get your pop quiz back, see what you got right and what you missed. Then, take some time to reflect on your performance. Was anything unclear? What did you miss? Did you perform well on the topics you thought you would?

You might want to discuss the pop quiz with your professor during office hours.

Remember, pop quizzes are meant to help students understand the content taught in the class. Try to look at them as learning experiences rather than as annoying or scary assessments.


Feature Image: skynesher / E+ / Getty Images

What is considered a passing grade in college? Is a D a passing grade? Learn more about how to pass your classes and graduate on time. Test anxiety can impede your performance on exams and in classes. Applying these practical tips before and during assessments can increase confidence. What's the best way to survive finals week while also boosting your academic performance? These tips can prepare you to master college finals week.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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