Ever experienced a test situation where you mind goes completely blank? Even the most well prepared students can suddenly freeze with nerves or anxiety when they sit down to write a test. In other cases, students lose points because they answer questions incorrectly or second-guess themselves. Although taking a test certainly can be rather nerve-wracking, knowing how to tackle it effectively can help tremendously in calming nerves and improving grades.
The night before the test, students should pack all of the materials they need, including last minute review sheets and multiple pens or pencils. Head to bed early so that you are thoroughly rested both mentally and physically on the day of the test. It helps to wake up a bit early and run through the review sheets while your mind is still calm and quiet. Eat a light, healthy breakfast and try tea or fresh fruit juice instead of coffee. Arrive at the testing room early, but avoid talking to students who are nervous or overly excited. In most cases, their anxiety easily transfers to others. Many students spend the last minutes before the test verbally listing out key concepts and definitions. Pay no attention to this since it is an easy way to pick up wrong information from others. Instead, find a quiet spot while waiting for the examiner to allow students to enter the room.
Before the test begins, listen very carefully to the examiner’s instructions. Note down any possible changes that they make. Upon receiving the test, take a moment to quickly scan through the entire paper, paying particular attention to the instructions on the test itself. For example, you might only be required to answer two out of four essay questions, rather than all of them. Skipping over the instructions could end up wasting a lot of time, as well as points. As you go through, jot down rough notes that immediately spring to mind after reading each question. Quickly make a rough schedule of how much time you can afford for each section of the test. Do a first pass of the test by answering the easiest questions that you are sure of. Next, go back and consider the harder ones.
By studying test-taking strategies for specific types of tests in advance, you will know how to answer multiple choice questions, essay questions, problem solving, true and false, and other common test formats. Remember the strategies and stick to them. If there are still a few questions that are very difficult, tackle the ones that have the highest number of points. In the case of math and science tests, don’t forget to show how you worked out the problem or include diagrams. Teachers often deduct points if these steps are forgotten. It is a good idea to check the clock from time to time, to gauge your progress. After completing the test, look though it again if there is time. On this pass, students should look for any possible errors that they might have made and then correct them. Apart from errors, students should also look for information they might have previously left out in their answers. At any point, if the instructions seem confusing, don’t hesitate to ask the instructor for clarification. There are several occasions where the instructor may have overlooked a printing error in the tests. To start learning about some key test taking strategies, have a look through the helpful resources outlined below.
Test Tips for Elementary Students
- Tips for the Standards of Learning Tests
- Useful Test-Taking Tips for Kids
- Test-Taking Strategies and Common Mistakes (PDF)
- Test-Taking Advice for Students and Parents
Test-Taking Strategies for Middle School
- Coping with Test Stress
- Create a Plan for Test Preparation and Writing
- Answering Multiple Choice Questions (DOC)
High School Test-Taking Strategies
- Important Strategies to Help Ace the Test
- Study and Take the Test with Success (PDF)
- Strategies to Beat Stress and Write a Good Test
College and Graduate School Test Strategies
- Tips for Writing College Tests and Exams
- Before, During, and After the Test
- Strategies for Different Styles of College Level Tests
- The Test Taking Survival Guide for College Students
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