Each student excels in his or her own area. For a lot of students, day-to-day work and application is easier than a cumulative test of knowledge. And with a significant percentage of a class grade relying on test scores, exams can seem daunting. For those who have test anxiety, you know it’s important to plan ahead. We’ve gathered up a few test taking tips for college students to help you know you prepared the best you possibly could.
Try a memory dump.
If you’re the type to study extra hard the night and morning before a test, a memory dump might serve you well. This means, as soon as you get the test, before even reading through the questions, quickly jot down everything you remember. Those minute details, those random dates or facts that are on the tip of your tongue right now might get buried as you start to fill out the test. This can be a way to create yourself a “cheat sheet” even if you’re not allotted one because those details are still fresh in your mind.
Read (and re-read) each question carefully.
It’s tempting to turn in the test as soon as you fill out that last Scantron bubble. But some questions can be worded trickily, so it’s in your best interest to read it again. The difference between a “which of the following IS and is NOT” can pile up and take away points you should have had. Slow down, read the question twice when you’re answering it and check back at the end. With the hours upon hours you put into studying, it’s worth the extra five minutes.
Also, use the context of previous questions to help drive your answers. Can you eliminate known wrong answers? Or if it’s math, plug in the remaining answers to find one that works? Can a previous answer that you’re certain of help you with this question you’re unsure of?
Eat a strategic breakfast.
You’ve likely heard this since you were a kid, but there’s solid science behind it. If you normally skip breakfast, the morning of a test should be your exception. If you don’t have a big appetite, it doesn’t have to be heavy. Get a good source of protein in order to boost mental alertness, and pair it with healthy carbs to prevent brain fog. Add in a small portion of healthy fats which are essential for brain function. If you’re in a dorm, this can be as quick and easy as a protein bar, a banana and a small spoonful of peanut butter. It’s worth the extra few minutes to know your brain is in its best shape.
Take the pressure off.
Sometimes, a single final can start to feel like the end of the world when it’s all you’ve been focusing on. When you start to feel this way, take a quick step back and realign with reality. Think about where you’ll be a few years from now. Will a difference of a letter grade matter? Or will you look back and remember your time in college as a bigger picture? The stepping stone for your career, the home of your life-long friends. The five minute rule states that if something won’t matter in five years, you shouldn’t spend more than five minutes being upset about it. When you think about that, your perspective shifts. Yes, you should care and try your best. But this doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. Your mental health is more important than any test could ever be.
Once you implement these test taking tips for college students, you can relax knowing there’s not much more you can do. You did your best. After that, take a deep breath, and forget about it. You’ve got this!