Preparing for an exam should be just a review if you have been on the ball with all your assignments. Preparing for an exam does not mean learning things you should have learned a few weeks ago or even a few days ago. You better do some heavy duty praying if you are reading the material for the first time. A review consists of looking over your lecture notes, the outline of your chapters and anything else you think is important.
The following are some strategies you can take to maximize your readiness for test taking.
KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT
Many students become anxious when they don’t know how their instructor is going to test them. Asking your instructor what type of format their going to use can reduce anxiety. For example, is the test going to be multiple choice, essay question or short answer? Sometimes your instructor will use several different methods to test your knowledge such as essay and multiple choices. Also, ask your instructor what material the test will cover. At first, your instructor may say everything in the book and lecture. However, after this comment instructors usually give helpful hints on what should be the focus.
GET A HOLD OF OLD TESTS
A good way to prepare for an exam is to review past exams. Ask your instructor if you can look at old tests to get an idea what the test you are taking could be like. You never know, some of the same questions may reappear on your test. When an instructor reconstructs a test, they often recycle the questions used in the past.
Before the test, make sure you have everything you need in order to take the test. For example, pencils, pens, erasers and other aids that your instructor allows you to use. This way you will come fully prepared to take the exam.
RECITE CHAPTERS IN THE TEXT
By now you should have summarized the chapters in the text at least a few times. Now without looking, see if you can recall everything that is important in each chapter. Then go back and see if you forgot anything. If you did forget something review it. This can also be done with your lecture notes.
STREGTHEN YOUR WEAK AREAS
Review any material you don’t know and if there is enough time, review the material you do know. Often students review the material they already know well and parts they don’t are ignored, making their study process ineffective.
GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
Staying up late or partying the night before an exam will not help your grades no matter how well you know the material. To do well on an exam you need to be alert. You won’t be able to concentrate if you’re tired. Understanding a question and recalling the answer can become difficult.
Unfortunately, some students may have trouble falling or staying asleep because their level of arousal is high. Usually, the level of arousal increases as examination day approaches. Here a few suggestions of what you can do.
Drink warm milk.
Take a warm bath.
Read something boring.
Do a few stretches.
Many students become anxious on the day of the exam. The anxiety of taking exams is normal and of course understandable. Students feel that their grades in school and success in life are all based on their examinations. Students become anxious because of the thought they have of becoming a failure in life.
Avoid having these types of thoughts and feelings. They only make you feel bad and it won’t help you when it comes time to take the exam. Just remember, a test is to see how effectively you have studied. If you follow the methods of learning, studying and preparing for tests then you shouldn’t have a problem with examinations. Here are some things you can do on the day of the exam.
ADOPT A POSITIVE ATTITUDE
On test day, wake up in the morning with a big cheery smile. This will help start off your day in a good mood. Once you’re in a good mood it becomes easy to adopt a positive attitude. Walk into class with your back straight and chin up then repeatedly tell yourself, “I can ace this test.” By being prepared and adopting a positive attitude you will ace that test! Students who have a negative attitude during exams don’t do as well as students who have a positive attitude. Students who have a negative attitude are pessimistic and have developed a sense of hopelessness. Having confidence in you does make a difference.
Before an exam, try meditating to help decrease stress and anxiety. Here is one way you can meditate:
1. Relax in a comfortable position and close your eyes.
2. Inhale deeply with your nose, and then exhale slowly through your mouth.
3. Then repeat a few phrases to yourself such as, calmness, serenity and tranquility. When you exhale, breath out phrases such as anxiousness and nervousness.
4. Do this until you’re physically relaxed. When you’re physically relaxed, your arms and legs feel heavy. Sounds from your environment will fade in and out. You will feel half asleep and time will seem to have moved forward.
This meditative method should help you feel more relaxed.
REVIEW YOUR NOTES
Don’t you hate it when you know the answer to a question but you just can’t remember it? Well, this is a common occurrence among students. Students will become so nervous during an exam they will go blank. A helpful solution to this problem is to review your notes right before the exam. Reviewing your notes before an exam can increase your chances of remembering. This is due to rehearsal. Even though you already know the material, the more you rehearse the easier it becomes to recall it such as, is remembering someone’s name. The more you repeat the name, the easier it becomes to remember it.
USE AN ERASABLE PEN
Use an erasable pen for easy correction and neatness. Students who use a regular pen often turn in exam papers that look sloppy. It becomes difficult for your instructor to read your exam when words are scratched out and corrections are made. The neatness of your exam can affect the letter grade you will receive. A neatly written exam will often receive a better grade than a poorly written one.
READ ALL DIRECTIONS AND QUESTIONS CAREFULLY
You can lose points on an exam if you don’t read the directions and questions carefully. You may overlook the meaning of the directions and questions. Here is a common type of question that students will overlook: “Which of the following is not a prosiman?” Students will give the wrong answer because they fail to notice the word not. Here is also a common type of direction that students will overlook: “Select the two best answers.” Students will often give one answer because they fail to notice the word two.
PUT A MARK NEXT TO THE QUESTION YOU ARE UNSURE
Often too much time is spent dwelling on a single question. You can reduce the amount of time spent on a question by putting a mark next to the ones you are not sure of. After you have completed your test you can go back and reread or double-check your answers. Hint: If you’re stuck between two answers select the one you thought of first. Majority of the time the first answer you thought of is the correct one.
RAISE QUESTIONS TO CLARIFY
If parts of a test lack clarity such as directions, then ask your instructor for help. It is better to clarify something you don’t understand, than to regret it later. Sometimes an instructor may give a helpful hint to the answer of your question (especially if you appear distressed). So when in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask for help.
TAKE YOUR TIME
Don’t rush! Again, it’s important for you to read your exam carefully so you don’t miss any valuable information. There are a number of ways to avoid rushing during an exam. First, stop looking at the clock! This only causes you to hurry. Just relax, take your time and complete the exam. Second, don’t let students who have completed their exam make you feel you have to hurry. Some students just read faster than others. Finally, there is a tendency to think that students who finished first are the ones who have aced the test, and students who have finished last have failed. However, this is not the case. Students who use the whole time period do better because they recheck for errors. Some students who finish early use the “any old answer method.” In other words, they put down any answer on their exam and they hand it in. So the amount of time spent on a test is not correlated with the test results of the test. Just concentrate on your exam and do the best you can.