Kinsey MinterThis month’s blog was written by Kinsey Minter, First Year College Advisor with the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR)!

Conquering Exams: Test-Taking Tips

Test anxiety? We’ve all been there. Whether it’s standardized tests, college entrance exams, or even licensing certifications, these high-pressure situations can make even the most prepared student sweat. But fear not, there are strategies that can help us before and during the exam! By implementing some strategic test-taking tips, you can transform nervous energy into laser focus and crush that exam.

Preparation is Key:

  1. Understand the format: Knowing the test structure – multiple choice, essay, fill-in-the-blank – helps you strategize your approach. Research question types, point allocations, and time limits to avoid surprises.
  2. Master the material: This may seem obvious, but thorough understanding beats last-minute cramming any day. Create study guides, use flashcards, and explain concepts to others to solidify your knowledge leading up to the exam.
  3. Practice makes perfect: Take practice tests under timed conditions to simulate the real exam. Analyze your mistakes and focus on areas needing improvement. This builds confidence and familiarity with the pressure.

On the Big Day:

  1. Fuel your brain: Get a good nights sleep and a high-protein breakfast and water throughout the test keep your energy levels high and focus sharp. Avoid sugary snacks that cause energy crashes.
  2. Arrive early: This reduces stress and allows you to settle in calmly. Review key concepts while you wait, but avoid cramming new information that might confuse you.
  3. Read instructions carefully: Each question might have specific requirements.

Test-Taking Tactics:

  1. Scan the entire test first: This gives you a sense of the length, difficulty, and point distribution. Allocate your time accordingly.
  2. Start with easy questions: Build confidence and momentum by tackling questions you know. Skip difficult ones and come back if time allows.
  3. Manage your time wisely: Don’t dwell on any one question. Set time limits for each section and move on if necessary. You can always revisit unanswered questions if time permits.
  4. Try to think of the answer before reading the choices: On multiple choice questions, it can be easy to rush into reading the answers. It is best to read the whole question, think of the answer, and then find it among the choices.
  5. Ignore students who finish before you: Students who finish early may not score as well as those who take their time.
  6. Review your answers (if allowed): Double-check your work, especially for careless mistakes. Be mindful of changing answers based on gut feeling unless you have a strong reason.

Bonus Tips:

  • Stay calm and positive: Take deep breaths and visualize success. Negative self-talk only hinders your performance.
  • Dress comfortably: Wear layers to adjust to room temperature and avoid fidgeting with uncomfortable clothes.
  • Some tests can be retaken: If this is a test you can retake, be sure to do the research beforehand so you can aim for a better score the next time around.

Remember, these are just guidelines. Adapt them to your learning style and the specific test format. With effective preparation, positive thinking, and smart test-taking strategies, you’ll be well on your way to conquering that exam and moving forward in your education.