Some of the most basic and simple test taking strategies must be done before the test. Make sure to get a good sleep the night before so that your mind is alert and able to focus well. Arrive at the test on time – or ahead of time, if possible. Bring several writing implements (e.g., pens, pencils) that you can use to take the test, as well as any other necessary supplies, such as a calculator, erasers, or reference materials. You may want to make sure that you have a working watch on the day of the test so that you can pace yourself. Alternatively, you can make sure that you are seated near a clock in the room so that you can see it easily.
Start with Success
Most students take their time answering question by question from the beginning of the test to the end of the test. A better technique would be to go through the test relatively quickly the first time, answering only the easiest questions. This technique is effective for two main reasons. First of all, it helps you to build confidence as you realize how many questions you can answer easily. Second of all, it gives you an overview of the test and enables you to plan your time effectively. For example, you might realize that most of the test is multiple choice with several essay questions sprinkled throughout, or you might find that Section 3 tests you on basic definitions that can help you warm up for the rest of the test.
If the test has a time limit, it is important to pace yourself so that you have time to complete the entire test. Don’t get bogged down on a difficult question that is taking you a long time to answer sufficiently. If there are visible point values attached to each question, make sure that you answer the questions with the highest value before the end of the testing time. Leaving these questions for last can be dangerous because you may never have time to answer them, which can seriously affect your final test grade.
Answer Questions Carefully
When you begin a section, make sure that you read the directions carefully. As you read each question, make sure that you understand everything that the question is asking you. You may want to underline certain keywords and phrases in the question – such as “always,” “why or why not,” and “most nearly.” If you are answering a multiple choice question, use the process of elimination to narrow down your choices. If you are writing an essay response, make sure to plan it out beforehand so that it is well organized. Following these test taking strategies can help you ace your next exam.
This post is part of the series: Study Tips and Strategies
Not sure how to improve your study habits? Searching for study strategies that will work for you? This series includes study tips and strategies that can work for students from middle school through college and beyond.