Taking tests is an inevitable part of learning. Whether the test is multiple choice, true/false, or an essay, there are strategies you can use to do well.
Scan the test before answering questions to get an idea of how many and what types are included. If possible, skip the questions you can’t answer (relatively) quickly on this first pass.
1. Take Practice Tests
As the cliche goes, “practice makes perfect.” The same applies to test taking. Practicing good study habits before the exam, reviewing your notes daily, and taking practice exam prep can help ensure your success.
Taking a practice test will give you an idea of how you will approach the questions, what kind of time frame to use, and whether or not to skip questions you don’t know the answers to. This will give you a sense of confidence on test day.
It is also important to listen carefully to any instructions the teacher or test proctor gives before the exam begins. This can be crucial in a test where you are writing or answering short answer or essay questions. It can also help with math problems that have multiple components.
2. Make Your Own Questions
Students respond best to questions that tap their overall understanding of a subject. Try asking more open-ended and essay-type questions that require synthesis rather than simply memory and recall.
Avoid grammatical clues that can tip off test-takers to the correct answer, like “a” or “an.” Also, be careful about using negative words in question stems or choices.
Make your quiz interactive with images and videos to keep it interesting and fun. Use friendly language that makes the test feel more like a conversation. Mix up question types so that test takers have multiple ways to demonstrate their knowledge, including multiple choice, true/false, and fill-in-the-blank. Also, try varying the order of your question blocks or randomizing the question order. This will create a more challenging but fair exam for your learners.
3. Take Breaks
Have you ever been stumped on a problem and decided to take a break, only to find that the answer came to you in a flash of inspiration? That’s because taking breaks allows our brains to refocus and see the situation in a different light.
Some students may be able to cram several hours the night before a test and still do well, but for most people it is more effective to study in short sessions over a longer period of time. Try to make it a habit of scheduling your break times, and stick with them!
Another great way to stay focused is by avoiding distractions like smartphones, TV shows, and music. Instead, listen to instrumental songs or try using calming breathing exercises.
4. Eat Right
During your study sessions, be sure to eat well. Although it may be tempting to eat junk food to save time, make a commitment to yourself to spend at least a few hours each week cooking wholesome meals and stocking your fridge with healthy snacks. This will help you stay energized and focused, especially on test day.
On test day, eat a healthy breakfast to ensure that your brain is working its best. Try to eat foods that provide a steady stream of energy (such as oatmeal, eggs, yogurt, berries or nuts). Avoid sugary foods that give you a temporary boost in energy but crash shortly afterward.
When you’re ready to write the exam, remember to psych yourself up with positive affirmations and arrive early. This will help decrease stress and leave you with more time to eat breakfast and get a good night’s sleep.
5. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
No amount of last-minute cramming will help you on test day if you aren’t well rested. Staying up all night to study is not only counterproductive, but it also increases stress and impairs memory. Instead, develop good study habits and try to get a full 7 to 9 hours of sleep the nights leading up to your exam.
And if you are still worried about your ability to sleep at night, try to do a non-stimulating activity such as reading or meditating before bed. Getting on a routine will help your body’s natural rhythm and will optimize your sleep. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. Studies show that even a little bit of dehydration can affect your ability to concentrate and recall information.