Become a Good Test-Taker in 2022 With These 8 Tips
Not everyone is a good test-taker. That’s just a fact, and it’s one to which you can relate. Being able to perform well on an exam isn’t the most important thing in life that you will do, but it’s certainly essential to being able to take on future challenges.
In this article, we are going to be examining eight things you can do right now to improve your test-taking game. Some of these will be familiar to you while others could seem a little more challenging.
As you read through each one of these suggestions, make note of where you struggle. What specifically holds you back from being a good test-taker? Let’s examine.
1. Focus On Where You Are Successful
The easiest place to start when you’re not sure where to start is with what you know. That’s true for everything in life. You need that initial familiarity to build upon.
Take physics, for instance. You wouldn’t jump right into the deep end of the content area without first going back over the related disciplines and seeing what is applicable in the new context.
Becoming a good test-taker is the same way. Ask yourself specific questions about the exam. What types of questions come easy for you: multiple-choice, true-false, short answer, essay? As you start your exam, look for those easy-access entry points.
2. Address Your Shortcomings
Identifying the positives in your test-taking game is only the start. As you do so, you’re bound to see where you struggle just from the sheer process of elimination. Be grateful for this opportunity, and treat it like you did the positives.
Learning a subject area means noting the specific details, concepts, and information that you will need to go back and learn later. It takes less time to jump in and improve your game when you do your initial run-through.
Likewise, taking a test means marking whichever questions give you the highest level of difficulty as you seek out the “easy” parts. You can then go back and address those areas when you’ve worked through the questions with which you are comfortable.
3. Make A Study Plan
A study plan is important when it comes to learning the material for a test. It’s also beneficial when it comes to how you physically take the test. Allow us to expand.
You’re trying to learn a unit on algebra but really struggle with solving quadratic equations. Everything else seems to be going to plan, however. That’s great. Acknowledge how much time you have left until exam day, and shift most of your study time to those areas.
By the same token, you should think about the makeup of the test. Will it be mostly short-answer? Essay? Review the potential topics and pull together a list of possible short-answer or essay questions for that discipline. (Thank you, Internet, for potential specific questions.) From there, make most of your study time follow those particular formats for delivering responses.
4. Take Practice Tests
Yes, you should spend more time hitting the question formats that you struggle with the most. But that doesn’t get you off the hook when it comes to taking practice exams. As you do so, make sure it follows the setting and time limits as closely as possible.
Working through a bonafide practice test in the same type of way that you will on test day does a couple of things. It gets you used to the format of the test as it relates to the possible material. Secondly, it ensures that you’re used to your environment and surroundings on test day.
Specifically, it gets you more comfortable with the ticking clock. Timed tests can make you feel so stressed out on the day of the exam if you’re not used to working under their tyranny. The answer to that is to get used to them as much as you can beforehand.
5. Enroll In A Prep Course
If you’re uncomfortable with what you are taking an exam on, or the format, there are test-prep courses out there to help. You can find some online for free (or paid) or take a physical class close to your location.
The great thing about prep courses is that your testing anxiety is often built into them. Teachers help you understand what types of questions you’ll face, the format of those questions, and how best to manage your time as you do so.
People with a lot of anxiety tend to get the most benefit from enrolling in a test-prep course. If you’re trying to become a better test-taker and feel that’s your most difficult obstacle, then it’s a good route to go.
6. Leave Yourself Enough Time
Time management is crucial to how you perform on a test. The situation that you don’t want to find yourself in is rushing to beat the clock. This usually happens because you spent too long on a few questions without working through the rest of the exam.
We’ve already hinted at what you should be doing when it comes to leaning into your positives and addressing your negatives. In the time management context, however, this is how it should work.
Take the first five minutes or so of the exam to skim over every question. Make mental and even physical notes of the ones that come easy for you and the ones that will pose more of a challenge. After you’ve done so, breeze through the “easy” ones as quickly as you can. Whatever time is left, do some quick math to see how much time you’ll need to spend per question. Spend the rest of your time on these questions.
7. Control Your Breathing
What happens to many anxious test-takers when the exam first starts is pretty common. They have that quick-natured response where they forget to do certain things to regulate their physical and mental activities.
As hackneyed as it may sound, learning to breathe better is one of the best things you can do to combat it. This ensures that your body and mind will not betray you when you need them the most.
Pay very close attention to what your nervous system is doing when the proctor gives you the go-ahead to start. If you feel panic start to creep in, let that be your cue to take a deep breath. Close your eyes and count them off. One, two, three, four, five. In and out, in and out. Doing so empowers you. That’s because you are taking action against those negative reactions.
8. Make Notes Immediately After Your Exam
Persistence is one of the most useful things that a good test-taker can have. For that reason, you shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking your work is done just because the test is over and you’ve turned it in.
Take some time right after the exam to do post-op. Jot down everything that came easy to you and everything that proved difficult. This will give you a good starting point for your next exam.
For students that find themselves taking tests like the PRAXIS, ACT, or ACT, having those notes will be crucial. That’s because you’re addressing the experience while it is still fresh on your brain before you have a chance to forget potential areas of concern that you will be able to turn into positives at a later date.
Learning to Become a Good Test-Taker Will Help You Succeed in Life
It’s certainly true that being a good test-taker will not automatically make you successful. Specifically, students who are all about the test score instead of application could find it difficult as they progress through their education and careers.
That said, testing is a necessary evil of sorts. It helps you test your knowledge and ability under the pressure of environmental and time-based restrictions. In life, you are bound to encounter situations such as these, and you have to be ready for them.
Learning to keep your cool in the midst of them will help you to be successful as you become more knowledgeable in your future endeavors. Now it’s your turn, readers. What are some tips that have really helped you improve your test-taking game? Sound off in the comments section below!
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