Ace Your Test
Edited by Dougie, Doug Collins, Shelley
Getting good grades on a test requires careful note-taking, good study habits and plenty of focus. You have to be willing to put a lot of effort into it, especially if you're not familiar with the material. However, there's no need to anxiously await test day and spend sleepless nights cramming your brain full of information. Once you discover your learning style and develop your test taking skills, you'll earn consistently better grades regardless of your past experiences. Learn the proper study techniques which will help you interpret questions and recall information more quickly by reading the article below.
What's Your Learning Style?
Discovering your learning style is one of the keys to retaining and mastering information. By following your personal style, you'll comprehend information more easily, retain more information and solve problems more effectively. To get the most out of studying, check out the learning styles below and decide which one fits you the most. For some students, combining methods often provides the best results.
Visual learners often need to see what they're learning for the information to truly sink in. They benefit the most from graphs, tables, writing notes, highlighting important text, flash cards, videos, maps and pictures.
Auditory learners retain the most information when they hear it. They benefit the most from listening to lectures, audio recordings, asking questions, reading aloud and answering questions aloud.
Kinesthetic learners retain the most information through hands-on experiences. They benefit the most from making models, participating in simulations or presentations or visiting educational centers or museums.
How to Study Effectively
Find out what material the test will cover.
Your teacher will most likely let you know what material the test will cover, so use this to your advantage. If possible, find out what type of exam it will be and which parts are worth more points.
Do not wait until the last minute.
Begin studying as early as possible so the information has time to sink in. You should make a study plan and stick to it. For example, plan to study for no more than 2 hours a day, to avoid getting burn-out. Your brain can only retain so much of what you're reading, so pick a specific section and subject for each day and stick to it.
Organize your study area.
Neatly file your notes, worksheets, old quizzes or tests and books so you can easily locate what you need while studying. Getting rid of other books, notes and papers can keep you focused on the task at hand.
Read your textbook.
In most cases, reading your textbook is the number one way to prepare for a test. Pay special attention to highlighted or bolded words and key information. Also, pay attention to important names and dates. Write down the most important facts, and answer the review questions throughout the chapter.
Create summaries out of key points to help you remember the whole idea.
Take notes on the most important facts, ideas and concepts after you've read each section. When you go back to study, reading the your summarized notes can help trigger your memory and allow you to remember more details. If you're allowed to write in your textbook, take notes along the sides of the pages, or along the top or bottom of the page. Use a highlighter for important text. If you're not allowed to write in the textbook, use post-it notes on the pages so you can easily skim through the notes while reading the book later on.
Write questions on index cards.
Write questions based on key information in your textbook. Test your knowledge after you've read all of the material to see how much you remember. Re-read and quiz yourself again if you don't get the right answer the first time. If you have a study partner or willing family member, ask them to quiz you on the material.
Try unconventional study techniques.
Teach a friend or family member some of what you're learning. Try creating a song out of a series of words or facts you have to remember, or make a mindmap, diagram or model. You can even create a mini presentation of what you've learned so far. Do whatever you feel most comfortable with.
Study at night before you go to bed. Studies
have shown that your brain is more likely to retain information when sleep occurs shortly after you've learned something new. If you prefer not to study right before bed, at least review important parts of your notes.
Try studying in different places.
The concept behind this is that the brain creates new associations with the information every time we're learning in a new place. So, if you normally study in your bedroom, try studying at the dining room table, at a coffee shop or the library next time. You'll be more likely to retain the information after studying the same thing in different places.
Take breaks if you need them.
If you feel yourself becoming frustrated or bored, take a quick break. Get up, walk around, listen to some music, watch a show, grab a snack or talk to a friend. Do something that you enjoy to give your brain a break and a chance to rest. You can start fresh when you're ready.
Your brain needs fuel, so make sure it's getting the maximum amount of nutrition. Choose healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. Complex carbs help keep you fuller longer than processed or refined wheat products. Foods with omega 3 fatty acids such as fish, nuts, seeds and olive oil can even help reduce anxiety and improve concentration before a test
. If you need something to perk you up, caffeine is okay, but you should avoid over-consumption.
- Study in an area that has good lighting levels.
- Choose a quiet area to study.
- If you must listen to music while studying to break the monotony, classical music is a good choice since it won't interfere with your thought processes. If you want to listen to other types of music, save it for your breaks, since it can be distracting.
- When you get tired of studying one subject, move on to something else, then come back to it later.
- If you are facing exams over several days, plan ahead and give yourself enough time to study for each subject.
Preparing for Test Day
Pack up everything you'll need the night before.
Bring extra pens, pencils, paper, calculators, rulers, etc. so you have it ready to go.
Get enough sleep.
Make sure you go to bed early enough to get at least a full 8 hours of sleep. Give yourself a break from studying, as well. Being fully rested is extremely important when it comes to thinking clearly and performing your absolute best.
Set two alarms.
If your test is in the morning, set your alarm clock and phone alarm, that way there's no way you'll sleep in and miss the test.
Eat a light and healthy meal before the exam.
Eat something well-balanced and light to provide brain fuel but avoid the sluggishness that often follows large, carbohydrate-heavy meals. You need a long-lasting, slow-digesting energy source, so foods like oatmeal, whole-wheat cereal or toast, eggs, fruits, vegetables and cottage cheese are good choices. Stay hydrated, as well.
Do some exercises.
Getting in some physical activity is a good way to wake up, boost your circulation and improve your brain power. It can also help you get out any nervous energy you have before test time.
People don't often give this much thought, but physical discomfort can impede your ability to focus on the test. Wear layers so you can remove or add clothing to adjust to the temperature of the room.
Quickly review your notes.
If you have time before the test, skim through your notes. Pay special attention to areas you've had more difficulty with. Even a quick glance can be enough to help you out when test time comes and you're working on a tough question.
Take deep breaths.
Deep breathing can help calm your nerves so you'll be fully relaxed and ready to take your test. Breathe deeply using your abdomen, not your chest.
What to Do During the Test
Don't forget to write your name on the test.
This is pretty obvious, but it does happen and may result in a zero score.
Read the instructions carefully.
Not following instructions is a common mistake, but it is avoidable.
Read each question twice.
Make sure you fully comprehend the question before attempting an answer. This important, since misinterpreting a question can lead to an incorrect answer.
If you are stuck on a problem, don't spend too much time on it at the expense of other test problems.
Budget out how much time each question should take based on the number of questions and the number of points each question is worth. Place your watch or other time keeping device on the corner of your desk so you can glance at it while writing the test. If you go over budget on a question, simply move on. Your subconscious brain will keep working on the problem, and often while working on another question you will have an "ah-ha" moment. You can quickly jump back to the problem you were stuck on and finish the answer.
Show your work.
If your teacher wants you to show how you've worked out problems, specifically for math, do it. If you do get the answer wrong, oftentimes teachers will award you partial credit for making a real attempt.
Check your answers a few times before turning in the test.
Do not turn your test in before the allotted time is up. Check each question and make sure you've answered the questions to the best of your abilities.
Tips for Difficult Questions
- Eliminate answers that you know are incorrect.
- If "all of the above" is an option, and you know that three out of four are correct, chances are that's the correct answer.
- If you're dealing with number answers, eliminate the highest and lowest numbers.
- Choose grammatically correct options that fit with the question.
True and False
- Look out for any false statements. If there is anything in the statement that you know to be false, then the answer cannot be true.
- When answers contain absolute words such as "always", "never", "none" or "only", this restricts the possibility of an answer, so it's often indicative of false answers.
- If you have to guess the answer, choose "true". Tests often contain more true answers than false ones.
- If you have problems with any of these steps, ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.
Communications & Education
Recent edits by: Doug Collins, Dougie