Student Resources: Tests

Prepare for Tests

Some Tips on Preparing for Tests:

1.  Remember that preparation for tests starts the first day of class.  Attend every class, read materials, take notes and review periodically.  Avoid "cramming" for tests at the last minute.  Studying at the last minute can cause test anxiety and "freezing up" on tests. 

2.  Manage your time for test preparation.  Put the test date on your calendar and schedule review and preparation sessions from now until the test date.  Remember the distributed practice technique mentioned on the memory section.  Break down your preparation into small parts and spread it over as much time as you have.  Schedule a major review right before the test.

3.  Many students choose a study group to help with test preparation.  For your study group choose students who are serious about doing well in college.  Assign each member a portion of the material to review and present to the group.  Each member can look at the major points in the material and write test questions to quiz the group.  Study groups can be helpful, fun and lead to lifelong friendships.

4.  For essay tests, create approximately 10 pages of summary notes and review them frequently.  You might use acronyms or acrostics to help to remember the main points.  Acronyms are words that help you remember the main points.  For example, the word HOMES is an acronym to remember the Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior.  Acrostics are creative sentences, rhymes or songs that help you to remember.  Advertisers use acrostics all the time to help you to remember to buy their products.  An example of an acrostic is "Every Good Boy Does Fine" to remember the notes on the lines of the treble clef, E, G, B, D and F.   You can be creative here and invent your own words.

5.  For objective tests, use a highlighter to mark the important points in your text and review frequently.  Play close attention to words and their definitions since these are frequently used as test questions.  To remember details, use 3X5 cards to learn objective pieces of information such as math formulas, dates, names of places or key ideas.  Review a little each day for several days.

6.  Get your usual amount of sleep the night before the test.  Lack of sleep can make you confused and anxious about the test.  Have a light meal before the test.  Avoid too much caffeine or sugar immediately before a test to avoid excessive anxiety. 

7.  When you receive the test, take a deep breath, tell yourself you are well-prepared and focus on the test.  If you come to an item that you do not know, circle it and come back to it.  When you are more relaxed, the answer may come to you or you may find some other information on the test that helps you to remember the answer.

8.  Read the directions thoroughly and skim the test to determine how much time you will need to spend on each section of the test.  Plan your time so that you can finish the test. 

9.  Save a few minutes at the end of the exam session to check over your test to make sure it is complete and that your essay answers are readable.

10.  Remember that tests can be an opportunity to demonstrate what you have learned.  If you do not do well on the test, use the experience as an opportunity to improve your performance the next time.