Many students feel stressed and overwhelmed at the end of each term when finals week is upon us. As with many things in life, your attitude will directly affect your ability to succeed in school. If you start to feel stressed with final exams looming, keep these test taking strategies in mind to keep calm, get confident, and make the grades you want.
The best way to prepare for final exams is to keep up with your classes all term. This means taking good notes in class, paying attention, and doing assignments on time. If you have to miss a session, make sure that you have a trustworthy buddy in class who can share their notes with you and let you know about any new assignments. The less you have to frantically catch up at the end of the term, the more confident you will feel come test day.
Additionally, if your professor or classmates are running a review session, you should definitely attend. Review sessions are a great time to ask lingering questions about the material and to get a better sense of what will be covered on the test. If your professor gives a practice test or mentions in class specific items that are likely to be on the test, pay extra attention to those things as you study.
Save old quizzes and tests to review the night before your final exam. Think about what types of questions your professor asks and what they tend to look for when grading. For example, if you lost points on a past test for not showing your work or misspelling the name of an important historical figure, don’t make the same mistake twice! Each test you take throughout the term should prepare you for the final.
Though it may be tempting to stay up all night studying during finals week, be sure to get enough sleep. Losing sleep studying is a surefire way to burn yourself out and fatigue can lead you to make mistakes you wouldn’t otherwise have made. Eight hours of sleep is always recommended, but if you absolutely must stay up late to study, try to get at least five hours of sleep.
Don’t let a growling stomach distract you during the test. Make a healthy snack or light meal a part of your pre-test ritual (maybe try some of these brain foods for an extra boost).
5 Trusty Test Taking Strategies
During the test, use these five test taking tips to boost your score and bust stress:
1. Manage Your Time
The first thing you do when you get a test on your desk is take a moment to look over the whole test. How many questions are on the test? Are some of the questions worth more points than others? Take these factors into consideration and prioritize questions that are worth more points. Do the easiest questions first and get them out of the way so you have more time to think about questions that are more challenging. If a particular question is taking up too much of your time, save it for the end. You want to complete as many questions correctly as you can in the time allotted for the test.
2. Multiple Choice is Your Friend
If you’re unsure of the answer to a multiple choice question, start by eliminating options that are definitely wrong. Even if you ultimately have to guess, you have a better chance of picking the right answer out of two options than out of four.
3. Read the Whole Question
Don’t rush through reading the test questions! How would you feel if you spent 45 minutes writing an essay question response only to realize you missed part of the question, or worse, did not address the actual question. When it comes to test time, every little word matters, especially words like “not” and “except”.
4. Focus on You
Don’t worry about what other students are doing. If other students finish before you, don’t feel pressured to rush and complete the test too. Remember, there are no extra points for finishing early. They could very well have been guessing, and you need to stay focused on your grade and take your time to avoid mistakes.
5. Check Your Work
If you do finish early, use your remaining time to check your work. Make sure you completed every question as best you can and see if you can catch any obvious mistakes.
After the Test
Congratulations, you made it through your final exam! Give yourself some time to unwind and reflect on the things you did well before you have to take your next exam. Keeping a positive outlook helps you feel more confident and less stressed. If you have several big tests on the same day, take a walk or have a cup of coffee between tests to relax and clear your mind.
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