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Tips for Taking a Test or Exam

It’s the last few weeks of the school year. Students are in a hustle trying to study and get those final assignments in to finish the school year strong. Writing a test can bring a lot of nervous emotions. Here are a few tips to help slay the next test.

DON’T: Wait until the last minute to study and pull an all nighter.

DO: Plan ahead. The earlier you start studying the better. Studying is not just memorization. You want to allow your mind to develop a deep understanding and strong knowledge of the content. The ultimate test to demonstrate your comprehension is by teaching someone else.

DON’T: Come unprepared.

DO: Have everything you need. This may seem simple but we’ve all been in an exam where someone didn’t have a pencil or pen. The worst is when someone doesn’t have a calculator even though they are permitted one. Just come prepared at all times to execute the work. At the very least ALWAYS have a pencil, pen and an eraser.

DON’T: Start answering questions right away.

DO: Read over all the questions of the exam first. (Even I struggle with this from time to time) Sometimes we get so anxious that we start writing without fully understanding the question. Story: I had a Shakespeare test where students were required to analyze a passage from Macbeth. More than half the class failed this part of the test because they misunderstood the question. Tip: e.g. and I.e. do not mean the same thing (e.g. means “for example” while I.e. means “in other words”). Make sure you know when to follow the example or do exactly as told.

DON’T: Forget to write your name.

DO: Write your name first. Again a simple step but many students forget to do this.

DON’T: Keep the information in your head.

DO: Create a ‘cheat sheet’ on the back of your exam. After you have written your name – and before reading the questions – write down on the back of your exam everything that you know and that comes to mind in the first few minutes. If you begin working and reading questions right away you will second guess yourself or overthink your answers. Rather than stress yourself out right from the start just turn to the back of your exam to see the notes you have written down. Chances are the answers you need will be right in front of you. This is a great technique if you have to use quotes to support ideas or use equations to solve problems.

DON’T: Just wing IT!

DO: Have a plan on how to attack the exam. Depending on the format of the exam you may have some sections that are worth more than others or that will require the most time out of you. Plan how much time you will take to answer questions and give yourself at least 15 minutes to review and edit if needed.

Most importantly… just BREATHE and RELAX and GIVE IT YOUR BEST. After all, it’s only an exam. Think how much fun you can have after it’s all over!

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