Test Taking Skills: Strategies for Coping
Too little anxiety (apathy) or too much anxiety (panic) are both problematic. A moderate level of anxiety gives energy and improves concentration.
The Night Before
- Establish good study habits. Cramming increases the likelihood of panic. Concentrate on what you do know and try to think of likely questions to be asked.
- Get a good night's sleep.
- Make sure you know the time of the exam, where it is being held and how to get there.
- Keep the importance of the exam in perspective. Talk to yourself: "It's only an exam." "I can do it." "Stay cool."
On Exam Day
- Eat a moderate breakfast or lunch. Avoid drinks or drugs with caffeine. Over agitation can increase nervousness and harm concentration and memory.
- Do a relaxing activity unrelated to the exam in the last hour before the exam.
- Steer clear of fellow students who are "anxiety generators." Panic is contagious.
- Get to the exam room early to settle in and prepare your supplies and familiarize yourself with surroundings.
- Tense all your muscles for a moment, then suddenly relax them. Take 3 deep breaths.
During the Exam
- Read directions and underline significant instructions.
- First answer the easy questions. Then go back to the more difficult.
- Multiple Choice - eliminate the impossible answers, then make as good an intuitive guess as possible.
- Essay Questions - take a few minutes to organize your thought. Jot them down and start with a summary sentence.
- When confronted with excess anxiety, break it by doing something unusual: ask a question; get a drink; chew gum; eat a piece of hard candy; sharpen pencil; tense and relax large muscle groups; take several deep, slow breaths.
- Don't rush; maintain steady pace.
After the Exam
- Use the test as a learning tool. After the exam is over, don't torture yourself over mistakes.
- Take a break and take note of how you were tested. Don't vow to study harder. Vow to study smarter.
- Review the exam looking for the types of errors. Is there a pattern: e.g. did I use a - instead of a + sign in problems?