test taking strategies


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6 Test Taking Strategies for Guaranteed Success

Sitting an exam can be an overwhelming experience. A flurry of thoughts run through your mind. Will you remember everything? How difficult is the exam? Can you get the grade you desire? It’s a lot of pressure! However, if you have done the groundwork of studying adequately at least 3 weeks prior to the exam, these test taking strategies will help you confidently complete the exam.


Keep Your Emotions In-Check


We often neglect the role our emotions and thoughts play in exam success. Weeks of hard work can be thrown out the window because you allow negative thoughts and emotions to cloud your judgement. Use 30 seconds to a minute to close your eyes and take a deep breath before you begin an exam. During this time make positive affirmations, such as “I prepared for this exam and I will excel.”. Let go of any negative thoughts, panic or fear and tackle the exam like a boss!


Read the Instructions


Students too often neglect to read instructions. Never start a paper before reading the instructions and understanding what is expected. For instance, the instructions could state that you should only complete 2 of the 3 questions in section A. Ignoring these instructions could mean that you will waste time answering all 3 questions and may lose marks since the teacher will only mark the first 2 questions you answered, even if your response to the third question was the best.


Skim Through the Paper


Use the first 2 minutes of the exam to read the instructions and skim through the test. Skimming allows you to get a feel of the types of questions being asked. It also allows you to choose the questions you feel most confident answering. It will essentially help you create a plan for optimal results.


Complete the Questions with the Most Marks First


A test does not have to be completed in order. You are the master of how you complete the test. Try to complete the questions that are worth the most marks first. All other questions can be completed in whatever order you choose.


Use the Number of Marks Allotted as Your Timer


The number of marks allotted to a question is a good gauge of the amount of time that should be spent on the question. A question worth 1 mark, for instance, is usually basic recall and should not take more than a minute to complete. If you are spending too much time on a question, leave it out and return to it when you have completed other questions.


Leave at Least 5 Minutes to Review


Practicing taking timed tests should be a part of your study sessions. This practice should enable you to manage your time well during the real exam. Effective time management will allow you to have enough time to review your responses.


Exam success is a combination of consistent studying with effective test taking skills. The test taking skills outlined in this article can help any student achieve his or her academic goals. You can accomplish greatness with the right approach to conquering exams.