So you’ve studied super hard and you know the information like the back of your hand. But when you are actually taking the test, you feel so rushed that you don’t do as well as you should have. The situation can seem totally frustrating and unfair!
Do you frequently run out of time while taking tests? Is watching the clock much more stressful than remembering the material? If so, I know how you feel and I know how to help. Picking a good test-taking strategy really takes the pressure off and ensures that you’ve done the best that you can do on an exam.
Experiment and see which of these options works for you. You may want to combine them or use different methods for different kinds of tests.
1. Budget your time.
Divide the test into smaller timed segments. Within the first few minutes, figure out how long you have to do each problem, page or section. Make sure to leave some time at the end to check your work. Monitor the clock as you go through the test. If you can’t finish a certain portion in the assigned amount of time, move on. You may be able to come back to it later. If you can’t, at least you have more time to gain points elsewhere.
This method guarantees that you will get the chance to at least attempt every problem, even if you can’t solve it.
2. Easy problems first.
Quickly skim through the test, only stopping to do problems you are sure you know how to do. When you are done, return to the harder problems. This method leaves more time for working on harder problems, which makes a little more sense than the first method where all problems are assigned the same amount of time.
Unlike the first method, you might not necessarily get to every problem. You may not have time to come back to a lot of the problems you never even tried. The issue with method two is that many test questions are easier than you think. You may skip a question when you read a word you aren’t totally familiar with. Or maybe you frequently get a certain type of question wrong so you assume that this time will be no different. I think it’s important to at least try every single problem. You never know until you try!
3. Prioritize points.
Yeah, yeah, we all know we go to school to learn and true learning is more important than a high score on a test, blah, blah, blah… But let’s be honest. At the end of the day, the most important part of taking a test is getting as many points as you possibly can.
Look through the test and circle all the questions with the highest point values. Focus your energies on these problems, leaving the one- and two-pointers till the end.