7 Test Taking Strategies for Success
Before we actually go into the test taking strategies, I must admit that no number of test taking strategies will substitute for inadequate study for tests.
Just as a concert pianist wouldn't expect to be able to play Mozart or Beethoven on stage without practice, so you probably won't be able to go into a test poorly prepared and receive the grade you want.
So don't rely on these test taking tips alone to help you test well. Good study habits beforehand are required for test taking success.
The mind is like a bank. You have to make deposits before you can make withdrawals. If you haven't deposited anything in before the test, with prior study and practice, there won't be much to withdraw during the test.
Result: probably an F!
Your grade will sink fast if you don't put forth an adequate effort to study. Adequate time studying + these test taking strategies = TESTING SUCCESS!
The 7 Test Taking Strategies
1) Take a brief review of the material about an hour before the test
So, this review includes:
a) Class Notes- Take note of key ideas, main concepts, and any special notes that you made during class stating "This will be on the test!"
b) Chapter Summaries- Scanning through the chapter summaries and outlines can be a good way to get the main ideas from your textbook in a short amount of time.
c) End of Chapter Questions- These serve as good questions for review and self-testing. Plus, professors sometimes use these questions (or variations of them) in the test!
d) Be positive- have confidence going into the test knowing that you have studied well, and that you'll do well!
The next 4 test taking strategies are for when you are in the test.
2) Take a Big Breath
Relax! Take a few big breaths, in and out, to help soothe the test taking jitters! Also, oxygen helps clear the mind and prepares it to provide the answers you need during the test.
It will also help you to take a good drink of water before going into the test because water carries oxygen to the brain (not to mention, you'll avoid thirst from distracting you).
3) Scan the Test from Beginning to End
Briefly read each test question. Don't worry about answering the question yet, just read each one. This will help you get key ideas from each question. This helps when it comes time to answer.
4) Answer the Questions that come Easiest First
This helps your mind get into the testing state of mind and starts the flow of answers. If you get to a question that you don't know the answer to, then make a note of it and come back.
Don't get hung up on difficult questions. Keep your answering momentum flowing.
5) Take Moments to Relax Periodically
Stopping for a moment to clear your mind, taking a few deep breaths, and gathering your thoughts will help you keep your concentration and focus.
The last few test taking strategies are for after you've finished the test.
6) Don't Stress About What You could have done better
This is very counterproductive because the test is done and over with. Don't stress about what you should've done or how you should've answered a particular question.
Wait until you get the test back to think about what you could've done better!
7) Be Patient with Yourself & Your Professor
When you get your test back, just remember that the importance of any one test diminishes over time. So if you didn't do as well as you would've liked, then learn from the test and MOVE ON!
Be patient with your professors. They have tons of tests to grade. You only had to take it once. If they don't get it graded by the next class, don't sweat it.
While reviewing your test, keep in mind that professors sometimes make mistakes when grading.
If a key is provided, make sure the professor graded your test correctly. This might improve your score if there are any mistakes in grading.
Keep it All in Perspective
After all is said and done (you have taken the test and used these test taking strategies), remember that one test grade fades in importance over time.
Take whatever your score is as good feedback. This can now act as a course correcting guide for you to gain the level of understanding that you need to do well in the class for the rest of the semester.
So, don't sweat it too much if you didn't score as well as you would've liked.
Just take it as feedback and learn what you need to for success in rest of the class.