Want to help your students tackle their exams with confidence this fall? It helps to give them a plan of attack. You’ve probably noticed that year after year, many students make the same test-taking mistakes.
We’ve assembled some tips for you to share with your students. These are starting points – feel free to add your own!
Preparing for the Exam
1. Get off to a good start. Doing well on a test shouldn’t feel like a last-gasp sprint to the finish. Get a good start right from the starting gate. From the first class, organize your notes. If you realize early on that you’re having trouble with the material, or that the teacher is not teaching in a way that works for you, consider getting a tutor.
2. Be consistent with your studying. Stay on top of your classes. Review your notes after every class – yes, we said Every Single Class.
3. Pay attention to what the teacher emphasizes. Believe it or not, teachers want you to do well. They are not typically treating test material like a state secret.
If your teachers keep repeating the same concepts, heads up! They might be trying to tell you something.
4. Carefully review the course outline. This might seem obvious, but course outlines are a great way to see what your teacher and your school think are the most important concepts. It’s also a great way to make sure you haven’t overlooked any key points.
5. Practice retrieving the material from memory. Don’t just write out your notes. That’s just teaching you to copy things. There are websites that can help you create practice tests and handy study tools like flashcards. You could even make your own – it’s great way to analyze what you’re learning.
6. Consider practice tests. This is especially important for standardized exams such as the ACT and SAT. They have a particular format that it’s helpful to become familiar with.
The Day of the Exam
7. Treat your body well. You know the drill. Sleep. Eat. Now is not the time to stay up all night studying or to skip meals.
Don’t go into the test feeling “hangry”- avoid that irritable feeling you get when you are low on fuel.
8. Don’t leave anything until the last minute. Repeat after us: cramming is not a good strategy.
9. Read the instructions, and each question, carefully. If you have questions, ask the teacher.
10. Try not to second-guess yourself. It’s probably happened to you: you finish the test early, so you review your answers. But suddenly, you’re questioning everything you’ve said. While this can be a good thing, make sure you can explain to yourself why you’re changing the answer. In other words, don’t panic.
11. Manage your time. Keep an eye on the clock. Pace yourself.
12. Pay attention to how much each question is worth. If you’re running out of time, focus on the questions that have the most bang for the buck – those worth the most points.
13. Don’t give up. You’ve got this. Keep pressing on and you may realize you know more than you think.