Test Taking Strategies for CollegeMidterms and Finals

Most students stress about midterm and final exams. These exams are particularly intimidating to first year college students. Even sufficiently prepared students experience test taking anxiety. The test center can be a dreary place, but after learning necessary test taking skills, you’ll be able score high on any test.

It takes time and practice to master test taking skills, so utilize these tips to prepare for and take tests:

Time Management Skills

Finishing a test on time is difficult for many students. When taking long tests, plan how long you’ll spend on each section before beginning the test. These strategies will help you better manage time:
  • Sit where a clock is visible or wear a watch. Make a mental note when you begin, and periodically check the time.
  • Briefly review all test sections before beginning, and determine how much time should be devoted to each one. For example, set aside a half hour for each section while taking a two hour test with four sections. However, divvy appropriate time for each section since it takes longer to complete an essay than a multiple choice section.
  • Develop brief outlines with the arguments you’ll make when answering essay questions.
  • Don’t waste time dwelling on a single multiple choice question. Answer questions you know first to save time for confusing ones. Students often answer confusing questions correct when they have time to analyze and eliminate incorrect answer choices.
Test Day Preparations

Refrain from pulling an all-nighter the night before a test. Being groggy affects concentration. Utilize these tips to adequately prepare for tests:
  • Set an alarm or have a friend call you when tests are scheduled during early morning hours.
  • Eat protein rich food on test day. Protein is a reliable energy source while sitting and concentrating for extended periods of time. Avoid simple carbohydrates and excessive amounts of caffeine since consuming these substances often lead to energy crashes.
  • Shower on test day. Being self-conscious about appearance is a distraction.
  • Arrive early for the test. Having extra time will allow you to clear your mind and focus on the test.
  • Come prepared to the test with blue books, note paper, pencils, calculators, and other permitted items.
  • Briefly review notes just prior to the test. If you’re sufficiently prepared, summarizing notes will refresh what you’ve learned.
  • Time permitting, lightly exercise on test day. Exercise is an effective way to manage stress.
  • Use the restroom before entering the test center or classroom.
Relieving Test Taking Anxiety

It’s normal to feel anxiety on test day. Stress often motives students to study hard, but excessive stress can affect performance. Utilize these strategies to alleviate test taking anxiety:
  • Participate in deep breathing exercises before taking the test. Continue doing this if you experience extreme anxiety while taking the test. Deep breathing is an excellent strategy to calm nerves.
  • Take some time to stretch prior to sitting down for the test to relieve tension. If permitted or granted a break, stretch your limbs again while taking the test.
  • It’s ineffective to evaluate test preparation during the test. If you don’t perform up to expectations, assess performance and make changes after the test.
  • Don’t overreact to a poor test score. Move on since you’ll have opportunities later in the semester to make up for a bad score.
  • Meet with the teacher or an academic counselor if test taking anxiety is affecting performance. Counselors can teach you strategies for overcoming anxiety. Some teachers grant students who struggle with extreme anxiety additional time to finish a test.
  • Never compare yourself to peers, and don’t get distracted by students who finish early. Devote all your attention to focusing on the test. The best way to decrease test taking anxiety is to study hard for the test. You must make time to study. There is no easy route to success. Even if you’re prepared, it’s still normal to feel nervous. Utilize the aforementioned tips, and you’ll be fine.
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