20 Test-Taking Strategies to Help Boost Your Confidence

Many students struggle with feeling 
Stressed Or Nervous 
Before Big Tests And Exams.

Luckily, we have some good news- there are strategies to help you with this! 

These 20 strategies will help make the whole test-taking process easier, from prepping before to turning in your completed test. 

Getting Ready Before a Test?

Being prepared before you take a test will help you cut down on a lot of extra worry. Follow these 7 tips to lessen those test-day jitters. ​
1) Know what material the test will be covering.

Make sure you know exactly what you need to study for the test, so you don’t waste time studying the wrong thing. This way you won’t be caught off-guard by any questions. If your teacher has not made this clear, ask them for more clarification about the test material and what you should study for it. 

2) Make sure there aren’t any gaps in your notes.

If you were absent from class at all, ask someone if you can borrow their notes to fill in any gaps. Check to see that you haven’t missed any handouts or other important papers from class either. 

3) Make a study plan.

Avoid last-minute cramming by making a study plan. Give yourself enough time to go over everything you will need to know for the test. Make test study guides and flashcards. Get a study group together. Quiz yourself on potential test questions. (Quick tip: color-coding your notes can help your brain recall important information more quickly and effectively during a test!) 

4) Review the material the night before the test, then go to bed early.

Do not stay up late and cram the night before the test. Instead, give yourself enough time to go over your notes and review the material. Quiz yourself or ask someone else to quiz you. Then go to bed early. Getting enough sleep before a test helps your brain’s ability to focus and improves memory recall. Even if you still feel like you have more to study, put the books away and get some sleep. 

5) Eat a good breakfast the morning of the test.

Along with getting enough sleep, eating enough before the test will help your brain’s ability to focus. If caffeine makes you jittery, maybe lay off the coffee. Don’t forget to stay hydrated, too! 

6) Make sure you have everything you need for the test.

Before you leave the house, make sure you have all your supplies- notes, textbook, pencils/pens, erasers, calculator (if needed), water bottle, and anything else you may need. 

7) Breathe.

When you get to class, take a moment to collect your thoughts and breathe. Mentally go over the information you have studied. Then give yourself a moment to relax. Take a few deep breaths. Starting the test calm will help you stay sharp and focused.

Still nervous during the Test?

Here are 13 tips to follow during your test to help you focus and make the best use of the time given. ​
1) Pay attention to all of the instructions given by the teacher.

As the teacher hands out the test, pay attention to any additional instructions they give the class. When you get the test, read over the instructions on it before beginning and ask questions if anything is not clear. Other students may have questions about the same thing!

2) Go over the whole test before you start.

Next up, read over the entirety of the test. Look over all the sections and see if any parts will need more time than others. Plot out your time accordingly. Look at the value points for each section. Check for any extra credit questions or additional questions on the backs of pages. 

3) Do an “info dump” on scratch paper.

If you’re worried about blanking out on important information and if you’re given scratch paper for the test, use the paper to do an “info dump” of any formulas, dates, etc. that you may be worried about forgetting. Do this after you’re done reading over the test, before you get started on any individual questions. This isn’t necessary, but could be a helpful tool, especially for math or science tests. 

4) Answer the questions you know first.

Remember that you do not need to take the test in order! Go through and answer all of the questions you know first, so you can be sure to get points for them. This will also help you build your confidence. 

5) If you are struggling with a question, circle it and revisit it later.

Don’t waste too much time on any question. For difficult questions, mark them and come back to them at the end, so you don’t get stuck. You want to make sure to complete as much of the test as possible and getting hung up on individual questions can cut into time spent on questions you know. 

6) Don’t second-guess yourself.

Do not change your answer on a question unless you are absolutely sure you were incorrect the first time. You can drive yourself crazy second-guessing yourself and waste valuable time. If you’re not sure about an answer, mark it and come back. 

7) Give it your best educated guess.

For most tests, an incorrect answer is better than a blank answer. If this is not the case, teachers will usually specify that incorrect answers take off more points (ask them before the test starts, if they haven’t made this clear). Most of the time, it’s better to give an educated guess based on the facts that you do know. Who knows, you may get it right! If you have absolutely no idea, some questions are better left blank. Use your best judgement. 

8) Carefully read through each question.

Sometimes tests will be worded in ways intended to slip you up. This can happen with multiple choice questions (especially on standardized tests). Take your time to read through each question fully and make sure you understand what it is asking before answering it. 

9) Try not to get distracted.

This is easier said than done. If you catch your mind drifting or getting caught up in what other classmates are doing, bring your focus back to the question in front of you. Do not feel rushed if other students are turning in their tests early and you’re not finished yet. Everyone works at their own pace. 

10) Pace yourself.

Keep an eye on the clock. If you feel that you’re rushing, slow down. If you’re lagging behind, circle difficult questions and move on. Make sure you’re using the allotted time to the fullest. 

11) Relax.

Remember to breathe. If you find yourself getting stressed or blanking out a lot, pause for a moment. Breathe, collect your thoughts, and then try again. 

12) Review your test before turning it in.

Once you’ve answered all the questions you can, read over your whole test. Make sure you’ve completed as much as possible. Go over all your answers and make sure they are neat and readable (don’t lose valuable points because of messiness!). If you have time, go over any marked questions and give them another shot. 

13) Turn in your test!

You’re finished! Now that you’re done with your test, try not to worry about your score or how you did. If you’re worried that you did poorly, remember there may be opportunities for extra credit or retaking the test later. For right now, go treat yourself to something fun and relaxing! You deserve a break.

Need Test Accommodation?

Severe Test Anxiety & Learning Disabilities

If you have severe test anxiety or a learning disability, such as ADHD or dyslexia, speak with your teacher beforehand to see if there’s anything they can do to help make your test-taking easier. It is required for schools to make accommodations for students with learning disabilities. Sometimes teachers will allow these students to take the test separately in another room or give them more time to complete the test. For severe test anxiety, see about speaking with a counselor or therapist to help.

SEE ALSO: How to Find the Best Study Habits for You

Need more personalized recommendations?

The above tips and recommendations are broad strokes on study habits. If you have further questions, feel free to contact us for a personal consultation. We look forward to helping you.

About MathTowne

MathTowne is a locally-based tutoring resource. We are here to support students through the key phases of their academic journey: middle school, the transition to high school, all four years of high school, and college preparationOur staff has years of experience in creating personalized lesson plans for all of our students.

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