Tricks for test-taking champions

Valerie Teegardin
Valerie Teegardin

Freezing up come exam time happens to the best of us. Whether you made Meriam Library your new home this week or if you may have slacked off a bit too much this semester, I’ve got some tips that will ensure a successful test taking experience with no studying required. Don’t let your studying go to waste come exam time.

1. Bring out the heavy artillery. Do you think Tony Stark would ever go into battle without his Iron man suit? Heck no, so don’t even think about showing up to the final without being prepared.

Is your final open note, or require a Scantron? Stick all of it in your backpack the night before and please, don’t be that person who shows up without a number 2 pencil. Pack gum, a water bottle, anything you think you may need for your exam ahead of time to ensure you don’t face palm in class when you realize your binder is sitting on the kitchen counter.

2. Read… and then read some more. Yes, you actually need to read through every word that the teacher has presented you with. As obvious as this may seem, a lot of students get docked points simply because they didn’t fully answer the prompt or they misunderstood the question. I like to circle the key terms in questions when I take tests just to make sure I hit on all the points I need to.

A little mind-trick; if the exam is an essay or short answer response, use some of the language in your answer that is in the question or prompt itself. This “reflecting” technique, when applied well, can come across to your professor as having a well-rounded understanding of the material even if you have no idea what the answer is.

3. Do not dip out early! I cannot stress this one enough. Professors usually allow you to turn in your exam and leave quietly whenever you finish, but that does not mean you should! There is always more you can do especially on written exams. Add details, proofread your work, and don’t let limited space for writing deter you from getting every single thought down on that paper. Write in the margins if you have to! That one extra sentence could be the difference between an A and a B.

I cringe every time I hear the door slam shut as my peers turn in their exams before the allotted amount of time is up. I personally utilize the full time I am given as I frantically scribble down my ideas or ask to be re-shown a question I might have missed on the overhead display. I milk every single minute for everything its worth and my straight A’s last year prove that staying till the very end is vital for your success.

4. Defrost brain freeze with air. Obviously, we aren’t that stressed out to the point we forget to breathe, but you’d be surprised at how test anxiety can suffocate your usually regular, steady breathing and cause you to tense up and experience that terrifying moment when your mind goes completely blank as soon as you sit down. Defrost this brain freeze quickly by inhaling deeply through your nose while counting to 10 followed by slowly releasing your breath through your mouth.Continue doing this until your nerves mellow out and you are ready to crack down on your final.

If you are to remember only one thing from this, let it be that positive thinking is the Holy Grail for successful test taking. If you keep that in mind from start to finish, you will be golden! Best of luck.

Valerie Teegardin can be reached at [email protected] or @vteegardin on Twitter.