5 Strategies to Ace Your Next Test

Whether you’re nervous about your final grade, or certain this next test will be a breeze, it’s important to make sure that you set aside some time to prepare. Check out our top five test prep strategies below:

1. Clarify Expectations
Knowing what the professor expects of you will shape your entire approach to studying — so make sure to ask!

What You Do
Figure out what the key topics are, and what kinds of questions you should expect. Is the test focusing on a certain unit of study? What is the format – multiple choice, short answer, essay? What resources can you use –a study sheet, all of your notes, none at all? What are the time constraints – can you spend as long as you need or will the test be timed?

Why It’s Important
Knowing the key topics and test format will inform which concepts you spend the most time reviewing, as well as how you review them. Having clear expectations ahead of time will not only calm your nerves but will also provide structure to your studies.

How You Do It
Reach out to your professor online or via email a few weeks before the test to ask about topics, format, resources, and time.

2. Establish Study Habits
Establishing good study habits is essential to getting the most out of your courses.

What You Do
Practice answering questions in a variety of test-like situations. Try completing your homework in a timed, silent, and independent setting. Finish whatever you don’t complete in that time using your notes.

Why It’s Important 
Having practiced your skills throughout the unit, you’ll have a better grasp of the course material than you would otherwise. You’ll likely feel more at ease on test day because you’ve worked in similar a setting before.

How You Do It
Decide what kind of materials you’ll need to take the test. Materials might include your notes or a calculator and almost always include a laptop, scratch paper, and pencil.

3. Find a Quiet Space
Space defines the test-taking experience, and while it is a simple aspect of test prep, it can be difficult to find.

What You Do
Consider your options. You want to choose a place to work that is organized and quiet and where you will be undisturbed. Your place should have reliable internet access and a not-too-comfortable chair. This place might be in your home, at a nearby cafe, or inside your local library.

Why It’s Important 
You want a space that will minimize external distractions. Without distractions, all of your focus is centered on the task at hand.

How You Do It
If you’re going to a public place, check their hours ahead of time. Collect your materials. Tell those around you that you need a few hours to yourself. Clean off your table, grab a tall glass of water, and get to work!

4. Get Rest
Part of having a successful state of mind is being well-rested Don’t procrastinate and pull an all-nighter to prep!

What You Do
Get a good night’s sleep. Have coffee if you usually do. Stay hydrated. Show up for the test well rested. By a certain point (think: the day before the test), you know what you know. Sometimes the best thing to do is to stop studying and focus on self-care.

Why It’s Important
If you are nodding off during the test, you’re losing precious time and focus. If this does happen, that’s okay; have some water or stretch your legs and reset.

How You Do It
Plan ahead. Get your errands done in advance, and shift your schedule so that you can get to bed early the night before the test. Take a few moments before you start your test to just breathe.

5. Remember The Point
Here’s the thing with tests. We build them up as this big thing. For some, the build-up creates stress; for others, it promotes a “wing it” mentality. So remember the point.

What’s The Point?
A test is a metric. The professor uses it to learn what students know. For you, while it shows what you know and don’t know, it is also a time to reflect. You’ve joined this course, done all of this work, spent time studying – now it’s time to share what you’ve learned.

Why It’s Important
Think back to why you took this class. What motivated you? Life tends to get busy and can get in the way. Don’t let it! This test is a reflection of all you’ve accomplished, and of that, you should feel proud.

Written by Guild Education
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  • Sean Pierce says:

    Going forward after a half century is scary but what’s even worse is staying in one place and stagnating

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