Test Taking Tips

The season of testing is upon us! High-stakes testing is everywhere, from state tests to final exams to ACT/SAT/AP tests. And if you're like most of us, this may make you a *little* nervous (or a lot nervous, if we're completely honest). Here are five easy things you can do to help ease test anxiety and do your best, no matter what tests you're taking.

  1. Start studying 1-2 weeks out: Lots of people wait until the night before to study for a test. This is usually a panic-fueled, stress-induced frenzy that rarely helps anything actually stick in your brain. A better idea is to take 15 minutes each day to review the material that will be on the test. You'll solidify the content in your long-term memory and make it easier to recall on the day of the test.
     
  2. Rest: It seems basic, but proper self-care is vital for your brain to show off all its knowledge. Sleep, a healthy breakfast and lunch, and plenty of water (Not too much water! You don't want to be squirming in your seat through the test!). Dehydration, fatigue, and poor nutrition are all proven to affect cognitive performance.
     
  3. Answer the easy ones first: Every test has gimmes. There are almost always a few easy questions on a test. Answer those first! This gets you headed in a good direction, increases your confidence, and gives you more time to focus on the hard questions. Sometimes those questions are spread throughout the test, sometimes they're all at the beginning. Find the easy ones and knock them out first. 
     
  4. Eliminate what you can: If your test is in a multiple-choice format, rule out as many of the options as you can. Which would you rather do: make a blind guess with a 25% chance of getting it right or make a blind guess with a 50% chance of getting it right? Think of everything you know about what they're asking. Look for clues that help you eliminate wrong answers.
     
  5. Believe in yourself: As Henry Ford once said, Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right. Half the battle is believing that you can succeed. You're ready for this! You've prepared, studied, strategized, and now it's time to prove to the world - and yourself - exactly what you're capable of!