Test Taking

Test Preparation Tips

Prepare your content:

  • Create a study plan
    • Create a study plan that spreads out your study.
    • Starting early will eliminate the need for cramming.
  • Create flash cards/review sheet
    • Take the most important information and use it to make your own review sheets and flash cards.
    • Highlight all key words and phrases.
  • Explain it to a mirror or friend
    • You really know something if you can explain it in your own words.
    • Stand in front of a mirror, or sit with a friend and teach yourself or your friend what you need to know.
  • Adjust your studying for the test accordingly
    • True or false, and multiple choice tests: know facts and detailed information.
    • Essay tests: know main ideas and key facts.
    • Open book tests: create bookmarks (sticky notes) in order to find information quickly.
  • Review on a daily basis
    • When you review, you move information from your short-term memory into your long-term memory.
    • Reviewing is a huge contributor to success and actual learning the information.

Prepare your yourself:

  • Get rest: the night before a test, get 8 hours of sleep.
  • Remember important items: If there is something you want to remember, think about it right before you go to sleep.
  • Get nutrition
    • Get up early enough to eat breakfast and not be rushed.
    • Have a nutrition bar handy during the test to re-power your brain.
  • Think positive: Close your eyes and imagine yourself taking the test, answering all the questions correctly, and getting the grade you want.
  • Be prepared
    • Get to class early and bring everything you need.
    • Walk into the classroom with your head up and your shoulders back.
    • Dress for success!
  • Stay relaxed
    • If you are feeling anxious, take several slow deep breaths.
    • Relax, and do your best.

Conquering Test Anxiety

When you are anxious about a test, the pressure is likely to cause you to not do as well as you can. Assessing your attitude and preparing well for the test can put to rest test anxiety.

Here are some things to think about...

  • One test will not "make or break" your Gustavus career. Do not feel your whole future is at stake. One test will not keep you out of graduate school, or from getting a job.
  • Put the test in perspective. Understand what influence it has on your overall class grade. Realize that it is a measure of how well you know the material on that day, not your worth as a person.
  • Avoid the trap of having low expectations just because you did poorly on the last test. Put that test behind you, and concentrate on doing your best on this one.
  • Your family and friends will still be there for you, even if you do poorly. Do not add external pressures that do not exist.
  • Compare yourself only to you. Do not worry about how the rest of the class did.

Try these techniques to improve your performance...

  • Get a good night's sleep the night before. The benefit of studying after midnight is diminished by the detriment of taking the test without enough sleep.
  • Prepare well for the test. Keep up with your daily work, and add test review starting approximately a week before the test.
  • Avoid talking about the test with your classmates immediately before the test. It tends to increase anxiety, and can lead to group paranoia.
  • Ask for clarification from the professor if there is anything unclear on the test. Feeling you are unsure about directions only adds to your anxiety.
  • Use positive self talk to calm fears as you are taking the test. Congratulate yourself for answers you are sure of, allow yourself to skip and go back to questions you are unsure of.
  • Be aware of physical tension. If you are tense, take a minute to breathe and relax your muscles.

Adapted from About Test Anxiety by Channing L. Bete Co, Inc.



For more help with these, or any other study strategies, make an appointment with a CARE Peer Academic Coach, or with Jane Lalim, Associate Director of the Center for Academic Resources and Enhancement, by calling x7227 or email jlalim@gustavus.edu.