Top 10 Test Taking Tips

Many students who otherwise make good grades on class work do not do as well taking tests. It is suspected that students who lack confidence in their test taking skills are actually trying so hard that they “choke” or spend too much time on one or two problems and don’t have time to answer the questions they may have known. Learning strategies used by “good” test takers along with ways to stay relaxed and focused will help these otherwise good students overcome this disadvantage. 

Below, you will find top 10 test taking tips that will help you succeed. 

1. Come prepared and on time.

  • Rushing to class will add to your stress

2. Bring everything with you will need for the test.

3. Arrive early enough to focus your brain with a quick look at your notes.

4. Stay relaxed and focused.

  • Approach the test as you would a difficult task you have accomplished before.
  • Take deep breaths to keep calm and repeat the exercise throughout the test to keep relaxed.
  • Keep your focus on the task and not other students.
  • If you blank out, picture yourself in a calm place while wiggling your fingers, toes, and taking deep breaths.
  • Don’t throw yourself into a panic over one question. 
  • Skip it and move on.

5. Have a plan of attack.

  • Before beginning, look over the test to give yourself an idea of how long the test is.
  • Organize your time based on which sections are easier to complete and which questions are worth the most points. 
  • Calculate how long you should take on each section and keep track of how you’re doing.  
  • If you think it will help clear your mind or organize your thoughts, jot down information you don't want to forget on a scrap of paper.

6. Understand the directions.

  • Read the instructions!
  • Understand how the test is scored: Is there a penalty for guessing? 
  • Scan and underline keywords.
  • Neatness counts. Graders who can’t read your answers will likely not count your answers.

7. Have a strategy for answering questions.

  • Answer the easiest questions first to build confidence and to calm nerves. 
  • Next, answer questions with the most point value.
  • Matching questions containing terms and definitions are often good reminders of important points.
  • Try to answer every question. You have a 50% chance of choosing correctly.
  • Make an educated guess that you “feel” is right then flag it so you can come back to it.

8. Analyze the question.

  • Identify and circle key words.
  • Read an item through and answer based on your first impression. 
  • Re-read the item, expressing its thought in your own words.
  • Look for each question's central idea.
  • Focus on addressing each question from your instructor’s point of view. 

9. Take advantage of all of your time. 

  • Take this time to look over your test.

10. Review.

  • Check all of your answers, correct any spelling errors and make any additions or corrections. 

Learning to be a good test taker is something every student can learn to do. As with anything else we try to do, however, learning good test taking skills takes practice and building our knowledge base, which in turn will provide the student with the confidence they need.  

Patti Hale is a freelance writer who spends her time writing for various blogs, including Career Training Base. One of her most popular articles is about Texas Apprenticeships.

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