How to Prepare for a Test

In my last blog, I discussed some ground rules to maximize your chances on doing well on a paper or essay. Not how to write a paper, just some simple guide lines to help you along. Today I want to take the same approach for preparing for tests and exams. This isn’t going to give you specific answers, but will be general enough they will apply to every written test you will ever take (and maybe a few other kinds of tests, too)

From elementary school through college, the basics for preparing for a test are always the same. Photo by  Renato Ganoza

From elementary school through college, the basics for preparing for a test are always the same. Photo by Renato Ganoza

You ready? Pick up your Number Two pencil and let’s begin:

Keep Up – Waiting until the last minute and then pulling an all-nighter is a direct pathway to failure. But more on that later. To prevent yourself from being put in that position, keep up with your class work. Take good notes, read the required texts, and if there is any sort of group discussion or review for the test, get involved with it. The test will cover a lot of material, and it’s foolish to think you can memorize it all in one sitting. Start ahead of time, read and write, and more of it will stick in your memory.

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition – Keeping up will only help you so much. Put out a little more effort, just a few minutes a day, to review your class notes or materials. Do this every single day. Constantly re-reading your notes helps you retain information. This is particularly helpful if you need to remember a lot of names, places, and dates.

What kind of test? – I don’t mean the subject of the test, I mean the design of the test. Will there be deep, detailed essay questions, or fill in the blanks? Will it be a multiple choice test, or an exam required concise hand written answers? Or a combination of all of these? The more you know, the better you can prepare, so ask your teacher or professor how the test will be structured.

Be well rested and well fed – Remember when I told you not to stay up all night cramming? Going into an exam sluggish from lack of sleep will affect your results more dramatically than skipping that cram session. And get yourself something to eat. Being well rested, fed, and hydrated will keep you alert, sharp, and able to fully concentrate of your test.

Bring your gear – Pencils? Make sure to bring more than one. Erasers? Bring a spare just in case. Does the test require blue books? A calculator? Is it an open book test? Know what you need, and bring all of it with you, and then some.

Go potty – Sounds dumb, right? It’s much less dumb that realizing halfway through an exam you need to go, and the professor not letting you run to the restroom because that’s against the rules.

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