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8 Tips For Better Test Taking

8 Tips For Better Test Taking

Are you or your child an anxious test taker? Do you struggle with poor test scores, even though you know the subject matter well? If so, you’re not alone — test-related stress is a common experience. Luckily, test taking is a skill you can work to improve. There are proven strategies you can use to sharpen your focus and alleviate some of the anxiety you feel. Follow these tips for better test taking to experience less stress during your next exam.

1. Come Prepared

Before test day arrives, make sure you’ve studied sufficiently. Even the best test-taking tips and strategies won’t help if you haven’t prepared by studying and reviewing the material you are being tested on. Work to understand the subject as well as you can. If you know the material, you’ll be more confident when it comes time to take the test.

2. Get Enough Sleep

Fight the urge to pull an all-nighter before a test. Staying up all night to study is not an effective way to learn. In fact, a lack of sleep can negatively affect your ability to remember the information you are learning. Your memory recall will be significantly better if you’ve had a full night’s rest.

3. Arrive Early and Listen Closely to Instructions

Whenever possible, try to arrive a few minutes early for your test. This will give you time to get settled, take a few deep breaths, and narrow your focus on the material you’re being tested on. It will also give you the chance to ask the instructor any last-minute questions you have about the subject matter or the test itself. As your teacher explains the instructions for the test, listen carefully and ask follow-up questions to ensure you fully understand what is expected of you. Uncertainty around test instructions will only increase your anxiety.

4. Read Through the Entire Test Before Beginning

Once you have the test in front of you, take a moment to read it thoroughly before you begin. Read through all directions and questions carefully, and if anything is unclear, ask the instructor to explain it. Then, before you begin, take a moment to estimate how much time you’ll have for each section of the test. Try to pace yourself so that you will have time to complete the entire test in the time you’ve been given.

5. Do a Memory Dump

This simple strategy can be particularly helpful on tests that require you to remember dates, lists, formulas, and so on. Before you answer any of the test questions, take a moment to write down anything you are afraid of forgetting. For instance, in a math test, if you need to use certain equations to calculate your answers, write those equations down. For a history test, write out any dates or timelines you may need. This will relieve stress and free up your brain to recall the other information you are being tested on.

6. Focus on One Question at a Time

As you work through the test, focus on one question at a time and try not to think about what’s coming up next. If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t spend too much time on it. Either answer it the best you can and move on or skip the question and come back to it later.

Unless your teacher says otherwise, it’s important to give an answer for every question on the test. If you don’t have time to answer each question fully, a partial answer is better than none at all.

7. Plan to Finish Early and Take Time to Review

When possible, try to plan your time so you finish a few minutes early. Then go back through the test to review your answers and complete any questions you skipped or didn’t answer fully. On the other hand, if you are running out of time and won’t be able to completely finish the test, don’t panic. Simply finish as much as you can.

8. Stay Positive and Use Relaxation Techniques

During the test, don’t let confusing or difficult questions get under your skin. Just do your best, stay positive, and move on to the next question. If you find yourself getting anxious or frustrated, take a mini break: close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and picture yourself in a calm, relaxing place. Wiggling your fingers and toes can also help to work out any nervous energy. Stress and tension make it difficult to remember what you’ve learned — relaxation techniques like this can help you calm down and focus.


We hope you find these tips for better test taking helpful. If you or your child struggle with test taking or test-related anxiety, a brain training program at LearningRx could help. Contact us today to learn more!

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