Preparing for Tests

Preparation is paramount in achieving test success and reducing test anxiety. This preparation consists of two parts, before the test and after the test.

Before the Test

  • Remember your goal. Make sure you are continuously moving closer to achieving it.
  • Learn and practice good time management and avoid:
    • laziness
    • procrastination
    • day dreaming
  • Keep up with your assignments so that when preparing for a test you will be reviewing familiar material. Frantic, last-minute cramming of new material usually results in a faulty memory.
  • To avoid completely rereading textbook assignments later, take bullet-point notes as you read, on main ideas, concepts, examples, supporting details, key words and other important information.
  • Organize the information in your notes and textbooks by making charts, mappings, diagrams and outlines.
  • Study and practice on questions from your textbook, homework and previous exams.
  • Do not be afraid to ask questions about material you do not grasp. Get tutoring assistance if you need it. You will not accurately remember information unless you first understand it.
  • Challenge yourself. Don’t do only that which comes easily to you; work through the more difficult material as well. Exams cover a wide-range of material from the simple to the demanding.
  • Practice ongoing review by looking over the material for each course at least once a week during the semester. Go over class notes, exercises, text notes, etc.
  • In reviewing, spend a greater amount of time on the material that is least familiar, and review briefly the material that is most familiar.
  • Prepare a list of likely test questions and make certain that you can give the correct answers to each in your own words.
  • Practice explaining the difficult material aloud. If you can’t explain it, you don’t know it.
  • Concentrate on remembering specific details (who, when, where) when studying for an objective test; concentrate on understanding broad concepts (what, why, how) when studying for an essay exam.
  • Ask the instructor what material will be covered on an examination – assignments, class lectures, outside readings, laboratory experiments, etc.
  • Review likely test questions with other students in small study groups of two to four members after each has first studied independently.
  • Don’t give up. Once you quit trying, you quit learning.
  • Complete long-term projects well in advance of scheduled exams so that your time will be free for review.
  • Do not stay up all night “cramming” for an exam. This endangers your test grade. You will be able to think more logically if you get a reasonable amount of sleep the night before a major test.
  • Study and know the material well enough that you can recall it even if you are under stress.

After the Test

  • Review, correct and keep returned assignments, quizzes and exams. Ask your instructor for help if you are uncertain about the correct answer to a question you missed.
  • Study your instructor’s “testing technique” so you will know the type of questions preferred and what information is emphasized (from the lecture, textbook, outside materials, etc.). Utilize this information when studying for future tests in the class.
  • Analyze your studying, testing preparation and test-taking skills. What went well? What do you need to improve? Make the appropriate adjustments to ensure greater success on the next test.