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Guide to Test-Taking

Students taking a test.

It is time for class to start, and the teacher drops a bomb. There is going to be an exam in two weeks! Questions flood your brain. What is it over? Am I prepared? How many questions will there be on this test? Will I pass? What if I fail? When do I start studying? Is it going to be multiple choice? What if it is a written response exam? How long will I have to take the test? Oh lord, what if it is a timed test?! Breathe! Take a breath; Operation Xcel is here with our Guide to Test-Taking, so that when it’s time for your next test, you will already have the answers to all your questions. 



The day you are aware of the test is when you should start preparing! Ensure that you find out which chapters will be covered and break that information into easily digestible sections that you will study a little bit every day until it is time for you to ace your exam. When there is a large amount of material, this will help reduce anxiety and overwhelm, as well it will ensure that you remember more than if you were to cram the night before.

Make a plan for how you intend to study the information from now until the test. With your plan, set S.M.A.R.T. goals and challenges for yourself. S.M.A.R.T. goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. 


For Example: 

Specific - “With a thorough understanding of the information from each chapter, I will ace my exam.”

Measurable - “I will study the information in that chapter until I get an A on the practice quiz for that chapter.”

Attainable - “I will review the information in each chapter by reading the textbook and reviewing the PowerPoint.”

Relevant - “Having a thorough understanding of the information in each chapter will prepare me to ace my exam.”

Timely - “Every other day for two weeks, I will study the information for one chapter and take the practice quiz for that chapter the day after I study the information from that chapter. I will repeat that every day for two weeks until it is time for the exam.”


Study Time

Set aside a specific time to study and create a study space that will stimulate focus and learning. You can choose to decorate the area and make it your own, but try your best to limit things that will distract you. You want to focus on soaking up as much material as you can. Respect the time you have created for studying and set intentions to focus. Review the information using auditory, tactile, and visual methods. Review the material by listening to it with a text-to-speech app or watch a youtube video that may explain more in-depth into the subject. Be sure to read the information silently and then again, out loud. Rewrite your notes and draw pictures that you can associate with what you are learning. Use apps like Quizlet to practice what will be on the test using note cards, practice tests, and games! Find an answer to every question you can conjure up, whether you look it up online or ask your teacher. Give yourself challenges and reward yourself when you complete each one, like a dance break after every page you read. You have the choice to make study time as motivating as possible, so get creative.

When you take the time to study in advance, you can reward yourself with a break instead of stressing over what you do not know. We broke the information into small sections so you could soak it in over time. The night before the test, you should already know what needs to be known. Studies show that getting good rest before the test instead of cramming helps students score even higher on their exams because they will not be hanging on, by a thread, to five chapters of fuzzy memories from the previous cram session. Instead, you will be knowledgeable, so close the book, turn off the lights, and get some shut-eye. 


Test Time

The time is ticking as you approach the hour of the test, but you are not worried because you have read our Guide to Test-Taking and have prepared in advance. Make sure you eat a good breakfast because nothing is more distracting than an empty stomach during a test. Bring multiple pens, pencils, and highlighters. Grab a light snack and water, and make sure you wear a wristwatch in case a clock is not present in the exam room.

When you sit down to take the test, you will already be ready, but there are a few strategies that you can use to ensure that you pass with flying colors. Ask the instructor how much time you have on the exam. Then, skim through the test to get a general idea of how the exam is structured. Count the number of questions and calculate how much time you can spend on each question. Do not spend more than that time on any question; if you do not know the answer, take your best guess, put a star by that question, and move on. You may answer some questions faster than others, so, in the end, there may be time to reread the questions with stars. Read every question carefully before you read any passages or graphs, and look at every single answer choice as well, even if you think you already know the answer. Use highlighters to point out keywords or phrases and cross out answers that you know are wrong. Leave no answers blank! If you are running out of time, the best thing you can do is ensure that you complete every question, whether you have read it or not. You may luck up and get a few of those guesses correct. Once the exam is over, take a deep breath. Pat yourself on the back because you made it through. That alone deserves recognition.