Study Tips That Will Actually Help You Score High on Tests

Students all over the country are struggling with nagging anxiety as they approach finals. Here are some tips to help you ace your tests when anxiety gets the best of you:

• Try not to study on test days. This is a proven method for getting lower scores because it causes stress and prevents students from focusing 100% on what they need to do. If you have time, find a quiet spot outside of your classroom or dorm that's secluded and stress-free. You can even use technology to help in this regard, like listening to soothing music via headphones or using an app that blocks out distracting noise (you won't be able to hear any students talking).

• If you're taking a test that's a timed event, like a midterm or final, always go into it knowing that you have all the time in the world. Just try to get through as many questions as possible in the first half of your allotted time. Then, if you finish early or have extra time left at the end, spend it all on those last few questions. The point is not to rush yourself to get everything done in 45 minutes. The point is to answer as many questions correctly as possible, and if there are still ones left over at the end of your allotted time , go ahead and answer them because you'll be able to find more time somewhere else and come back to them later.

• Pencils and erasers aren't just for doodling anymore. Nowadays, we have the ability to bring our own materials with us to tests, so you might as well use them. Bringing your own materials ensures that you have a way of protecting yourself from distractions and that you can be as comfortable as possible; having a pencil or sharpener (and even a small amount of paper) in your school bag can also help improve your test-taking skills.

• When taking tests, always try to answer ALL of the questions on the page, not just the ones that are directly asking for an answer. This means writing answers in the margins as well as shading them in. Shading makes it difficult to read, so don't be afraid to throw a single digit that could potentially be wrong (it's been known to happen) if you're certain that it's right.

• When you leave the testing room, make sure to tell the proctor or facilitator that you know all of your answers because they might not catch any mistakes you make on the way out. Most proctors will still do this at least at some point during your exam. It can only help your score since they'll either catch something wrong or you won't have a chance later on in life to get caught up with those questions.

• If you come across an especially difficult question that you really can't answer, don't spend too much time on it. Mark the question off as "blank" and go on to the next one. It's not worth your time trying to figure out a problem that the test isn't even concerned with or may not even be what's being asked for.

• When preparing for tests, try to make sure that you actually know your material by reading from notes or textbooks, reviewing lecture slides or emailing your teachers about some questions you may have. Don't just listen to other people explain it in class; otherwise, there will be a disconnect between what you know and what's expected of you when exam time rolls around.

• If you're in a class that has a lot of group work, make sure to take the time to actually do it. Even if you're not thrilled about group projects, they're still going to be important and used as part of your final grade, so you might as well put effort into them. Plus, it's a great way to get to know your classmates; besides being able to socialize with them outside of class, you also get valuable practice when working together.

• Find out what the professor is looking for in terms of content by reading over old tests or quizzes. If you know what your professor is grading on, it can be helpful to practice the questions before finals and come up with possible answers before the test even begins. Also, if you've been doing well with some questions in class, it will definitely help to know what those answers are.

• But don't forget: tests are graded based on performance, not on how well you memorized the information. It's impossible to cram information into your head without studying for it beforehand. If you find yourself cramming a few nights before testing begins (or even if you find yourself studying too much and sleeping too little), take a step back and try to calm down. It's only a grade, and it's not worth your health.

• Although they might take a little bit longer to complete, it's best to always take multiple-choice tests. Even if you know the answers to all of the questions in front of you, it takes time to record answers and can sometimes be confusing when filling in the small circles on an answer sheet; most of the time paper answer sheets don't even have room for every possible solution. With multiple-choice tests you just circle a number within the list of answers that seems right, and after that you're already done. There aren't many enough options that it takes long to go through them all.

• If you have a choice between a multiple-choice test and one of the others, always choose multiple-choice. Though it can be tempting to take tests like the IA or essay exams that seem more challenging and require more thought on your part, they take much longer to grade than the multiple-choices do. Since you're only getting one attempt at them, they may also give you less time to complete the exam as well. Be grateful if you find yourself with a test that's not a multiple-choice; however, don't let it distract you from the benefits of the others.

• Finally, never use outside resources during exams. Particularly on a multiple-choice test, it's easy to find examples of the answers to the questions and figure out your answers before taking the exam. It's best to just go in with absolutely no help and try your hardest to come up with the correct ones on your own.

With these tips in mind, you're sure to do well on tests this year.

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