How to Take a Test… and Succeed!
High school students frequently find that the hardest part of preparing for college is taking tests. If the thought of taking your ACT or SAT has left you awake at nights, or worst yet, waking up in a cold sweat, try this simple guide to bring you peace of mind and ace that test.
Your preparation for testing begins long before test day. Hopefully, you’ve been studying consistently and diligently to be prepared. The week before a big test, make the commitment to get lots of sleep, to limit your studying to no more than 8 hours a day (and that includes class time!), and to eat well. The day of the test, be sure to wake up in plenty of time for a good breakfast, have your materials (pencils, calculators, etc) ready, and show up to the exam center early so you have time to rest and relax before the test starts.
Starting The Test
Listen closely and/or read closely the instructions you’re given, and be conscious of where to find the clock, if you’re timing your test. If the test is science or math oriented, you might want to jot down formulas or definitions that you’re worried you’ll forget during the test. Start with a positive attitude, and quickly review the questions, highlighting the ones that you know you’ll be able to do quickly. Then, simply start with the easiest, highest value questions and work your way toward the toughest questions as your brain warms up.
During the Test
Not all questions on a test are equal; some might be worth more than others in your final grading. Be sure to budget your time closely, so you aren’t wasting time pondering low value questions that might have you stumped. Give yourself at least 10 minutes towards the end of the test to review your answers, and set a time limit on any big questions, so you know to move on even if you don’t have a complete answer. Unless you’ll incur a penalty for wrong answers, try to answer every question. During your 10 minute review period, don’t second guess yourself unless you’re completely positive the new answer is more accurate. Finally, mentally note the top 2 questions you’re most uncertain about, for review afterwards.
After the Test
Whew! Start by congratulating yourself on completing your test. Take a few minutes to search out the answers to the top 2 questions that you were unsure about, and reassure yourself that you were right (or memorize the answers if you were wrong). If you’re unsure about how you did, you may want to avoid talking to others about the test experience, as it might make you even more anxious. Finally, relax… you’ve done the best you can and you’ll receive your grades soon enough. Focus on the next step of your college application process, and think positive!