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Common Sense Test Taking Tips for Students
Many students claim to be just bad test takers. No matter how much they study or how well they understand the information, when it comes to taking the test, they can’t perform. Well, rest-assure that the problem probably isn’t that the student is a “bad” test taker, but that they let stress get the better of them. In 9 out of 10 students, inability to perform on tests is caused by stress and tension. Luckily, there are some test taking tips that will help any student conquer test apprehension.
The first tip seems like common sense, but is oddly enough ignored by most students. Take care of yourself physically. You’ve grown-up hearing reasons why consuming fatty or “heavy” foods, as well as overeating, is bad for you. Well here’s why it’s really bad before you take a test. When you eat, in order to digest it, an increase of blood is redirected to the stomach. It is taken from other places in your body, like your brain. Proper blood circulation in the brain is what enables us to think quickly and be more alert. When you eat a large heavy breakfast or lunch before a test, you are telling a portion of your blood supply to leave your brain and go to your stomach.
Another often-neglected tip is getting adequate rest. Whether a student stays awake worrying about the test or talking on the phone to their latest crush, it puts them at an immediate disadvantage the next day. It has been said that “fatigue makes cowards of us all” (Vince Lombardi) And how true that is. When we’re tired, our whole body is tired, including our mind. We’ve all entered a test where you just stare blankly at an essay question you may or may not know the answer to for 10 minutes doing nothing because you just don’t have to energy to start writing. Being tired can prohibit a student from correctly reading directions or missing a trick question. Fatigue caused by a long night of cramming can also do more damage than good. Even if you’re lucky enough to remember the information the next day, you won’t the day after that. And it can even reduce the retention and confuse the information you learned while studying properly.
Once a student gets to the test, well rested with a light meal in their stomach, it’s still easy to get nervous. It’s important to remember to relax and give yourself positive affirmations. Reassure the mind that there is nothing else you can do. If you studied… good, and if you didn’t study there is nothing you can do about it at this point. If you’re well prepared give yourself positive affirmations that you know the material. When you come to the first question you don’t know, skip it. Laboring over a question you can’t answer or you can’t remember disengages you from the rest of the test and often causes panic. Always skip it and go back later. Moving on to questions you know will help calm nerves, build momentum and clarity, and build confidence. It is also fairly common for another question within the test to answer or give clues back to skipped questions. So when you read a question that might as well have been in a foreign language, don’t throw the test in the air and declare that you’ve failed. Just leave it blank and go on to the next question.
All the test taking tips in the world won’t help if the student doesn’t study. But the reward of seeing “A’s” and “B’s” on tests shouldn’t only go to students who are “good” at taking tests. It’s normal to get nervous, but as long as you’re prepared, rested, full on a healthy breakfast (but not too full) and confident, the stress will disappear with each answered question.
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