Test-Taking Strategies

Here are 11 effective ways to prepare for and ace that big test.

1. Eat before your test!

If your test is early in the morning be sure to get a good breakfast. If it’s during your regular lunchtime, eat a snack or a small lunch before. It will be harder to focus if your stomach is growling, and you could end up with a headache.

2. Get a real night’s sleep beforehand.

The world won’t end and your friends won’t abandon you if you skip one night out or miss a sporting event. Even if you feel under-prepared, don’t be tempted to pull an all-nighter. Not getting a good night’s sleep the night before an exam will make it harder to remember what you studied, even if you spent looking it over.

3. Give yourself plenty of time to study.

DON’T PROCRASTINATE. Seriously. Just don’t. Try to study a little bit for several days before the test rather than a lot the day before the test. If you took good notes and you study them, you’ll do fine!

4. If you get really stuck on a subject, visit the professor’s office hours.

Professors are there to help. If you meet with them, make an effort in class, and still don’t do well on the exam they will be way more open to working something out because you showed that you tried.

5. If you get a cheatsheet, utilize it!

Make sure to organize it so you can quickly find whatever fact or formula you need. Color code it, label it, do what you have to do!

6. Star and/or circle any questions you’re stuck on and move on.

Don’t waste time staring at the question, you’ll just get flustered and frustrated. You can always come back to it later if you have time. It’s better to spend time on questions you do know than those you don’t.

7. If you’re a slower test taker, that’s okay!

Start with the essay or short answer questions and finish with the multiple choice ones. You don’t want to rush on the questions that are worth the most points.

8. If you’re a fast tester, use the extra time to double-check your answers.

Check your answers and be sure that you didn’t skip anything. However, its important not to second guess yourself, be confident in your answers. If you had essay questions double check your spelling and grammar as well.

9. If you’re stuck on the first question, flip the test over and start from the back.

Feeling stumped right away can make you frustrated and flustered. Try starting with a question you know to maintain confidence.

10. If you have any type of learning disability talk to your professor about accommodations.

It’s school policy to make accommodations for students who need them! Often this involves taking the test at in a different, less distracting environment or allowing for extra time. Don’t be embarrassed about any of these things. A lot of professors can relate and only want to see you succeed! Just be sure to approach them about this at the beginning of the semester, not right before a test.

11. Don’t cheat.

This one should be obvious. Colleges take cheating very seriously and punishment can go as far as expulsion. If you didn’t study well try to answer as best you can and try harder on other tests and assignments. One test grade isn’t going to make or break you, but getting kicked out of college will.

  This resource is presented by Kaplan Test Prep, offering test preparation, practice tests and private tutoring for more than 90 standardized tests, including SAT, GRE, GMAT, LSAT, USMLE & NCLEX.

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