The Hidden Art of Test Taking

test preparation, school test taking strategies, harris school of businessTry these strategies before your next exam

The Harris School of Business wants all of our current and prospective students to feel they’re able to do their very best. Here are some tips you might not have considered that can help you set yourself up for success on any of the exams you might be facing this term.

Know yourself
Ever considered when is your best time to study? To perform on a test? You might wonder what the time of day has to do with how you’ll do. The answer is simple: some of us are morning people, and some of us aren’t.

If you’re freshest and have the longest attention span in the morning, then put in some study time then. Do you get really focused around 11 pm when others are powering down? Block out a couple of hours to take advantage of that window (but make sure you get enough sleep on the other end).

Same goes for when your test will be. If you have to take a test at 9 am, prepare accordingly. Make sure you get to bed at a reasonable time the night before and eat a healthy breakfast. And if you rely on that morning cup of coffee, leave time to enjoy that—a morning cup should keep you sharp, not make you jittery!

Practice practice practice
Getting comfortable with the format of the test is key to feeling comfortable when you’re in the room on the day.

  • Take a practice run: If you’re gearing up for a standardized or multiple-choice test, take a couple of sample tests online.
  • Track your time time: Set yourself a time limit like the one you’ll be facing for your real test. Once you’re used to that time frame, it might not seem to go by quite so quickly on the day.
  • Make a plan: For an exam that requires you to write paragraphs or a full essay, practice spending a couple of minutes jotting down notes on a separate piece of paper at the beginning. Or even make a brief list or an outline of what you want to get across in your essay. Then about ¾ of the way through, you can look back and see if you have left anything out, with time to make adjustments. Doing this a few times gives you a process you can rely on when the day of the test arrives. This allows you to focus completely on doing your best work, and making sure you are clear and concise in getting your point across.
  • Go back over your answers. It’s always a good idea to leave yourself a few minutes at the end to read back through your responses and make sure you didn’t leave anything out.

Master the logistics
Don’t let your test performance suffer because you didn’t take care of some of the basics, especially when these are easy to get out of the way.

  • Triple check where and when the test will be. Ask several people to confirm.
  • Make yourself comfortable: Choose clothing to keep you warm or cool, shoes that are comfortable, and leave off accessories that might distract you.
  • Check your bag before you leave home for whatever supplies you’ll need, like your laptop/charger and/or pen/pencils/erasers/paper.

Do you envy other students who seem to always do well on tests? They’ve probably used some of these strategies. With these tips, you can feel confident on your next exam and demonstrate what you’ve learned. And every test brings you one step closer to that new career you’ve been working towards!

We have more ideas for how to improve your time management. See 5 Tips to Get Organized: For Students Only for some strategies that can really help you enjoy your school experience to the fullest!