The end of the school year is filled with tests. Replacing ineffective study methods with effective ones can go a long way towards successful results, but sometimes it’s not quite enough. The way you take tests also impacts your scores. As with other aspects of learning, test-taking can improve through the application of appropriate strategies.
These tips can help maximize test performance:
If your test preparation involved memorizing essential formulas or rules, you should offload that information immediately on the top of the test or scratch paper. Doing a memory dump of key information before starting the test provides a reliable reference and frees up mental energy. Then, you should preview the exam to get a sense of its length and content. This helps you manage your time and start brainstorming relevant information.
As you go through the test, you can continue to support yourself by taking a strategic approach. One option is a technique called “hard start, jump to easy.” Instead of completely ignoring the hard questions until the end when you are already exhausted, start with a hard question and work on it until you feel stuck. Then shift back to some easier questions and keep making progress. Come back to the hard question if you have an idea about it. Otherwise try some other hard questions in between the easy ones. This allows your brain to keep brainstorming solutions in the background without using up too much time.
While working on individual questions, you want to make sure you fully understand what they are asking. The first step towards understanding the expectations is to read the directions. Underlining any key words in the instructions can keep you focused on the right task. If you keep annotating each question throughout the test, you are more likely to notice important details and stay on track. Keep an eye out for qualifiers like “always,” “never,” “all,” or “none.” Paying attention to these important details helps you correctly apply the information you have studied.
Finishing to Maximize Test Perfomance
Once you finish answering the questions, it is time to check your work. Try to do more than skim through and see whether you filled in all of your answers. Reread the questions and see if your answers make sense. There is no need to second guess your initial instinct, but do change your answer if you have evidence your answer is wrong, you realize you misunderstood the question, or you recall new information. After this final check, you can feel satisfied that you have completed the test to the best of your ability.