Test-taking is its own kind of skill.
Whether you’ve got a book quiz in English tomorrow or are trying to achieve a perfect score on the ACT, many of the same methods apply and can help you succeed at any test!
Meet your “Maslow needs”
It’s hard to focus on higher-level tasks or improve on your goals if your basic needs aren’t met — a phenomenon described by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Make sure to prioritize getting a full night’s sleep, eating breakfast, and making yourself as physically comfortable as possible. If you get test anxiety, make time for a few minutes of diaphragmatic breathing before the test.
Study using multiple methods
It’s best to have a longer-term study plan that will allow you to approach the material in different formats. If your quiz is in a couple of days, spend some time each night preparing; review the material out of order, rewrite your notes in your own words, explain it out loud to a study partner or family member, and complete practice problems (perhaps through prep books or mobile test prep apps). Approaching the material in a variety of ways can help you retain it and learn to incorporate what you’ve learned in multiple scenarios.
Avoid cramming the night before — but if you need to…
Cramming for a test the night prior isn’t particularly helpful, but if you can’t avoid it, ensure you go about it in the best way. Plan to leave yourself at least six hours of sleep before the test — any less, and your performance may suffer. Don’t worry about studying too much in the morning; waking up refreshed from your rest helps you retain the information better, and you don’t want to risk oversleeping. Move to a location that limits distractions, like a coffee shop or a library. Focus on learning the big concepts, and fill in the details only if you have time; use the methods from above to help yourself really learn the content rather than just memorizing your notes. Finally, make sure to take regularly scheduled breaks to help avoid burnout.
Maximize your time on test day
During the test, it’s important to make the best use of the time you’re given. Try to arrive early so you can relax and check that you have everything you need for the test. If allowed, read through the test right away to make sure you understand how it’s structured and scored. Skip questions you find difficult after a minute and come back to them at the end. If you have extra time, review your answers to make sure you didn’t skip a question or make a careless mistake.
Depending on the type of test, some of your strategies may need to be changed or refined, but the suggestions above may help you improve your overall test-taking skills. Avoid cramming and have a study plan in place whenever possible, but always prioritize a good night’s sleep to keep yourself sharp. Good luck!
Looking for more test-taking advice? Check out these other related guest posts from our friends at Varsity Tutors.