Become a Better Test Taker!

6 Tips to Become a Better Test Taker

We all have to take tests throughout our lives and in doing so there are hurdles to overcome. The idea of having to perform well under pressure while having your anxiety through the roof can be a very daunting task. Indeed, a test taker’s main purpose is to create the easiest, smoothest process that is out there. The best way to make sure you are calm during testing is to study and be prepared.  As they say, if I could use a sports analogy, preparation is 90% of the battle and execution is the other 10%.  However, if you still have uncontrollable nerves while taking a test here are five easy tips:

1.)    Rest, rest, and more rest: Having a good night’s rest will pay off every time! I have always found it very difficult to concentrate while fatigued. So get that full 8 hours rest in order to have a clear mind.

 2.)    Time Management: If you are a slow test taker, you may have found yourself with 5 minutes and several questions left to answer, which can be very discouraging. Every test has a time limit and if you are not the fastest test taker (like me) set a pace for yourself and stick with it.

 3.)    Skip around: This tip coordinates with time management. A great way to test faster is to knock out the easiest questions first and then go back through and answer the harder questions you skipped. In addition, sometimes you may find an answer to a skipped question after going through the test one time.

 4.)    Never leave a question blank: Always answer every question if and only if you are not penalized for doing so. There are several standardized tests that will doc extra points for answering a question wrong. If in the many cases you are not penalized for answering a question wrong, you should absolutely answer it. Not answering a question and answering a question, but getting it wrong, is similar yet different. The former will NEVER get you points. The latter gives you an actual possibility of guessing it right. To continue with the sports analogies, you miss every shot you don’t take.

 5.)    Narrow down the possibilities: Eliminating obvious wrong answers dramatically increases your chances of getting the answer correct. Ideally, you want to eliminate 2 out of 4 answer choices to create a 50/50 chance of success. Make notes or cross out answer choices on your paper, honing in on the answer choice you hold to be true. Sometimes there can be questions in which a test taker knows nothing.  In these cases, all you can do is make your best educated guess.

 6.)    Reread questions and answers: I have always found that teachers will intentionally throw curve balls throughout the test that will ask for an answer that is opposite to the statement in the question. A great way to avoid these traps is to look for clues in the question such as “BUT, EXCEPT,” and “NOT.” I have always found it helpful to make the clue obvious by circling or underlining the word a few times.

The greatest thing about these tips is that they are easy to implement.  They don’t require you to learn a new skill, but just remember to utilize them. By simply following these guidelines you can drastically decrease your test taking anxiety.  You will be more focused and exude confidence once these skills are mastered.  Although you may not see huge spike in your grade you will see a marginal increase that could bump you from that B to an A.  Good luck and happy testing!