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Study Skills: College Test Taking Strategies


How to Take a Midterm or Final Exam?

For most students, midterms and final exams are one of the most stressful experiences in college — especially at the beginning. Even if you have learned by heart each paragraph in the textbook, attended all classes, and took part in all classroom activities, you may feel anxious sitting at your table during an exam.

To calm down is a skill, and getting to know it can be more important than being a persuasive essay writer. Even though you can to influence people with your writings, you may fail because of the high level of anxiety.

Here are some tips to help you alleviate the anxiety and excel at your exams.


Time Management Skills

Often, one of the biggest challenges of taking a test is getting it completed! If the test is on the long side, be sure to structure your time before you get started, especially if you’ve had problems completing tests in the past. Here are some tips:

  • Bring a watch, or use your cell phone as a time piece. You can’t keep track of the time if you don’t know the time.
  • Quickly but carefully, look through the whole test before you get started. Set up a rough time frame for each section of the test.

For example, if you have a 50-minute time block for the test, give yourself 15 minutes for the first essay, 15 minutes for the second essay, and 10 minutes for the multiple choice questions. As you can see, this schedule gives you a 10-minute buffer in case you need extra time.

  • If there are essay questions and multiple choice, give yourself more time for the essays.
  • Before writing the essays, take the time to write a quick but organized outline of each essay.
  • If you have a multiple choice test, don’t spend too much time on each question. If there’s anything you don’t know, skip it and go back to it later. Your “backburner” memory may kick in and cause you to remember.

Test Day Preparations

If you wake up 15 minutes before the exam starts, throw on some stinky sweatpants, and run across campus to take the exam, are you going to be at your best? Probably not! To get yourself in the best frame of mind, prepare yourself in an organized and calm way before the test. Here are some tips:

  • If the exam is early, make sure your alarm clock is set.
  • Take the time to eat a good meal before the exam. Be sure to eat some protein, as this will give you a reliable source of fuel throughout the test. Don’t load up too much on carbs and caffeine, especially if you have more than one test, because these will give you a burst of energy but will later cause you to crash.
  • Take a quick shower. No, you don’t have to be a fashion plate, but you’ll feel better if you’re clean and at least somewhat presentable.
  • Arrive on time for the exam with time to spare. Lateness is sure to stress you out. Be sure to allow time for traffic, parking, and any other factors that might slow you down.
  • Be sure to bring anything you’re required to have in the exam room, such as a pencil, paper, or blue book. To keep yourself refreshed, consider bringing a chilled bottle of water.
  • Look over your notes. Cramming in last-minute material probably isn’t going to help much. However, calmly reading over the material you’ve already studied can help keep it fresh in your mind.
  • If you have time before the exam, get in a quick exercise session. A short, brisk walk will do. This will help clear your mind and keep you alert.
  • Go to the bathroom before the test.

Relieving Test Taking Anxiety

Once you get into that room, you may feel nervous. While some nervousness may help by keeping you alert, too much can make it very difficult to concentrate. Here are some simple tips elaborated by the essay writer service to help you relax emotionally and physically before the test.

  • Before coming to the test, spend about five minutes stretching whatever parts of your body feel tense. During the test, take quick breaks to stretch your arms, legs, and hands.
  • Before the exam, sit calmly at your desk and take deep breath. If you find yourself getting anxious during the exam, stop for a moment and breathe deeply. You’ll be surprised at how much you can calm down your body and mind with some deep breaths.
  • Keep things in perspective. Chances are, this test isn’t as urgently and important as you believe.
  • Don’t beat yourself up. If there’s something you don’t know on the test, don’t give yourself a mental lecture about how you should have studied better. For the next test, you may want to study more or better– but now is not the time to think about this, as what good will it do?
  • Don’t compare yourself to how you perceive that other students are doing on the exam. Try not to pay attention to who finishes before you (and keep in mind that finishing early is not necessarily a sign of success). And ignore that girl in front of you who’s writing a mile a minute. Pay attention to your test-taking and don’t worry about everyone else.
  • If you have serious problems with test anxiety, talk to an academic counselor. The counselor can offer you more tips on how to relax. In some cases, a student with serious anxiety problems can be given extra time or a different environment to take his or her tests.

Of course, one of the best ways to alleviate anxiety and do well on the test is this: prepare adequately for the test! However, regardless of how prepared you are, these tips can help maximize your performance and calm you down. Best of luck!