Whether you’re in high school or college, tests are a part of your life for the foreseeable future. While they are your reality, they are an unpleasant reality. You’re probably never going to meet someone who enjoys taking tests, and if you do, you might want to start running. While we can’t make them go away, we do have some tips to help you feel better about taking them and to help you pass.
DON’T CRAM RELAX THE NIGHT BEFORE EAT AND SLEEP WELL BEFORE THE TEST ASK QUESTIONS IN CLASS LEARN THE MEMORY DUMP SCAN THE TEST BEFORE ANSWERING ANYTHING IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER, SKIP IT Good luck on your next test!
You’ve probably heard this one before, but we can’t emphasize it enough. No matter how busy your schedule is, or how boring the topic is, or how much you can’t stand the class, or how much you just can’t begin to grasp the topic, do not ever cram for the test. It only stresses you out and makes you more anxious about taking the test, but it does not benefit you. The adrenaline rush you get from cramming the night before or the day of a test can cause you to psych yourself out and do worse on the test than if you hadn’t studied at all.
Test-taking is as much about mental well-being and confidence as it is about knowledge. Your night before a test should involve a hot bath or shower depending on your preference, and some serious quality time with Netflix or playing video games. Don’t binge watch or play all night, you still need to get your rest, but the goal is to relax, rest your mind and wake up the day of the test feeling as refreshed and confident as possible. Whatever studying you were going to do, needs to have been done long before it is too late, and the night before a test is too late.
Being hangry really is a thing, and you don’t want any part of that going into a big test. Make sure you’ve had just enough to eat prior to taking the test. Don’t have a feast and make yourself groggy, but make sure you’ve had a decent — and hopefully healthy — meal before you go to class. If you can’t do that, at least make sure to eat a granola bar or some peanut butter crackers right before the test. A full stomach will help you have better judgment. The same goes for sleep. This is another reason why you shouldn’t stay up all night cramming the night before. When you don’t sleep, your judgment is way off. People don’t tell you to get a good night’s sleep before a test because they don’t want you to fall asleep during it, they tell you to get a good night’s sleep because rest promotes good memory and good judgment.
Most students seem afraid to ask questions in class. This might be because they are afraid other students will laugh at them, or that they will look dumb. Always ask questions if you don’t understand. Listening to a lecture will teach you some things, but when you ask a question and someone answers it, you learn more. Also, if you ask a question, other students might ask questions they have, and then you have more of an opportunity for learning the material than if you just sit and passively listen to a lecture. The key to understanding anything is to ask questions. If you want to be successful in life, realize that you will be asking questions for the remainder of your time on earth. You might as well start now.
The “Memory Dump” is the first strategy you should use when the test lands on your desk. On a scratch sheet of paper, or in the back of your exam booklet, write down everything you know about the material you are being tested on. This is cramming in reverse. Now that you have the test, write all of that stuff you’ve been holding in your head trying so hard to retain on the paper. This will actually help you remember it, and give you a place to look if you have a sudden bout of forgetfulness during the test. The act of writing something down helps commit it to memory. You probably won’t even have to look back at your scratch paper after you do the memory dump.
After your memory dump, scan the entire test and read every question. This will make sure there are no surprises. You’ll know where the hard questions are and you’ll know what’s ahead of you. This tactic will help you manage your time on each question so that you aren’t suddenly crunched with just 10 minutes left in the exam. Slow and steady wins the race. The person in front of you might have already answered five questions by the time you’ve done your memory dump and scanned the test, but answering fast and answering correctly are often two different things. Also, you shouldn’t be paying attention to anyone else in the class. If you’ve got an hour to take the test, plan to spend the entire hour taking the test. That’s how much time you have budgeted for it, and you don’t have other plans.
If you don’t know it now, staring at it for five minutes isn’t going to help you know it any better. In fact, it’s going to make you do worse on the other questions that you do know. Never let the test ice you or worry you. Skip the question and move on to another one. It doesn’t even have to be the next question. You scanned the test at the beginning, go answer something you know to build your confidence. Maybe somewhere in the answer to the other questions you’ll remember the answer to the one you skipped, then you can come back to it. Save everything you don’t know or don’t know well for the end. There’s no rule that you have to answer everything in order and the person grading the test has no idea what order you did the questions in.
RELAX THE NIGHT BEFORE
EAT AND SLEEP WELL BEFORE THE TEST
ASK QUESTIONS IN CLASS
LEARN THE MEMORY DUMP
SCAN THE TEST BEFORE ANSWERING ANYTHING
IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER, SKIP IT
Good luck on your next test!