So the school year is in full swing. Number 2 pencils are starting to be used more often, and the Scantrons are flying off the shelves. Today I will give you a few test tips on how to ace/pass those college exams of yours. Test-taking is one of the most daunting parts of your college experience, but it doesn't have to be.
Before The Test Tips
Before your test, there are definitely some rules you should be following for every college test you ever take. Here are some of my go-to tips.
Go To Class
Seriously, go to class. This will help your test score times a million. Even if you don't think you need to go to class, go to class. I will say that I am an auditory learner, so being taught in a lecture is the best way for me to learn. I didn't study a lot outside of class, but just going to class helped me cement so much of my undergrad knowledge. Also, since you usually take your test in the same classroom, it's good to go to class and associate some things your professors say with the classroom. Often I'd remember what my professor said in that classroom while taking the test, which helped me recall more information.
If you don't go to class, though, always always always catch up on what you missed. Sometimes I make the mistake of not going back through and figuring out what I missed when I miss class, and I always regret it. Even if you don't miss a crucial assignment, catch up on the information you lost by not showing up to class.
Fill Out The Study Guide
If your teacher was kind enough to make a study guide, fill it out, or at least skim it. Teachers usually make test and then make a study guide that reflects what the test says, so study it. Seriously, your professors won't always be so kind as to give you a study guide, so you gotta use it while you can.
Don’t Pull An All Nighter (Even If You’re A “Night Person”)
Sleep is essential. I know you want to put off studying until the last minute, and then in a heaping panic rush to study all night—but don’t. Even if I don’t study all week like I should, I refuse to pull all-nighters. I would rather not study than pull them. One suggestion is to study a couple of nights in a row right before you sleep. If you study before you sleep, it is proven that you will remember more. Sleep is crucial for remembering things. Pulling all-nighters might put the information in your short-term memory, but you will quickly lose all of the information after (or even before) your test. If you give yourself time to sleep on the information, more of it will but put in your long-term memory—where you really want it to be.
Find A Study Buddy
Two heads are always better than one. Get with a partner, making sure this is a partner you trust to do the work. Having a partner in the study world will help keep you focused and explain things you don’t understand. You can both work off each other's strengths and weaknesses so that you both have a better understanding of the material. As I stated, this needs to be a mutually beneficial relationship. Choose someone who is just as invested as you are in the material, or you may become more anxious (and be taken advantage of in an unequal partnership.)
During The Test Tips
I have some things that I always do while I take my tests (particularly multiple-choice tests!) Here are my during the test, test-taking tips!
Don’t Let The Questions Get To You
Professors hardly ever organize the test questions from “easiest” to “hardest.” If the first few questions only draw blanks in your head, move on. There will more than likely be tons of easier questions you can pick up along the way. This can be really daunting when you get a few softball questions and then some tough ones right after. Breathe, and keep going!
Go Through The Whole Test First
The first thing you should do is go through the whole test, answering the questions you absolutely positively know first. At the end of that round, go back to the questions you had problems with. This is always my go-to method when taking a test. This also helps because I might see something in a question down the line that will help me analyze the tough questions later.
Don’t Be Afraid To Get Clarification
Professors aren’t perfect. Sometimes the wording of their text is confusing to understand. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification at points during the test. It’s always a good idea to know exactly what you are answering to maximize your points possible than to answer a confusing question. Not only will this help you, but it might also help your classmates if the question is truly confusing. That way, the professor can clarify the question for the whole classroom if necessary.
Double Check What You Are Marking
When it comes to tests, especially computer-graded tests—double-check your markings. It’s easy to fudge up when filling in circles or clicking on a certain answer. Always double-check that you filled in what you wanted to and that everything is filled in. At the end of any Scantron test, I like to go through each line to make sure I have something marked on each line that needs something marked. I never want any blanks of a test.
Guess On Everything
Even if you are totally stumped on some questions after going through the test multiple times, guess. It’s better to have a 1/4 chance at getting points than a 0/4 chance of getting points. But also do some smart guessing. With most questions, you can up your chance of getting it right by canceling out the obviously wrong answers. Even if you still end up getting it wrong, at least you got to flex your smart guessing muscles a bit.
After The Test Tips
What you do once the test is over can be just as crucial as what you do during a test. Here are my tips for test-taking after the test is over:
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
It’s easy to say, “I should’ve known that!” or “Why didn’t I study harder?!” But don’t. Appreciate the grade you got, and don’t over-analyze the past unless you can re-do the test and change it. This type of behavior will only distract you from your future. You can be a great test taker, but using negative language around your test-taking abilities won't help you become a better test taker. Always be positive, even when you are not happy with your grade.
Learn From The Test
Analyze the layout of the test, how hard the questions were for you, and use it to better your test-taking ability. Change around your test-taking strategy for that class. If you have a few questions, talk with your professor during their office hours. They are there to help you learn the material and become better and acing tests over the material. Let them know how you studied for the test so they can help you make adjustments, collaborate with them so that your next test grade is sure to be better.
It’s important to begin the year with the same test-taking strategy for each class unless you know one class will be exponentially harder than the others. As you get your tests back, you can easily change how much time you put into studying for each class. I hope these tips were helpful for you.