BY BRANDON JARMAN
Tests are a necessary evil in today’s education system. Your professors need to know if you
truly understand the content they have taught you, or your university requires professors to
standardize their learning curriculum. That still doesn’t make taking tests any easier, but there
are some study and test-taking strategies you can implement to improve your performance.
Here are six things you can do to improve your test scores.
“Hack” Your Professor
Your professor isn’t going to give you all of the questions that are going to be on the test, but
there are some “hacking” strategies you can do to find out what types of questions are going to
be on your next exam.
- Ask yourself, “What does my professor talk about the most?”. If your professor is
spending a lot of time talking about one subject, they will likely include questions about it on the test. The next time your professor is spending 20+ minutes on one slide—take some notes.
- Do not hesitate to ask your professor the exact formatting of the test. Schedule an
appointment with them to chat about any questions that may arise.
Avoid Common Testing Mistakes
Sometimes you can get so caught up studying for the big test, you can forget the simple things. Remembering your pencil, scantron, or calculator may seem like an obvious suggestion, but there are common test taking mistakes that can add another layer of stress on exam day. It’s important that you prepare yourself as best as you can so that you can succeed.
Here are some simple suggestions to help you avoid common test taking mistakes:
- Read all of the directions laid out on the exam.
- Get plenty of sleep the night before the test.
- Make sure your scantron is filled out properly. If applicable, make sure the essay portion of your exam is readable.
- Start with the easy questions and then come back to the hard ones.
- Scope your test. Skim through the whole exam so you can prepare yourself mentally for what is to come. This can also help you manage your time more efficiently.
- Make sure to eat a substantial meal before you take your exam. Being hungry or dehydrated before your test can affect your performance
If you take care of the little things, big results can follow. Make sure to plan ahead so that the best version of you shows up on exam day.
Utilize the TA
A teacher’s assistant can help you prepare for an upcoming test.
To best utilize them, try the following:
- Attend their test review sessions as frequently as possible. They have most likely reviewed the exam and they can cover key topics you may have misunderstood. They’ve also been in your shoes before, so there is no need to feel intimidated. Remember: They are there to help.
- Ask your TA the best bulletproof methods to study for an upcoming test. Most likely,
they have taken the exact course you are struggling with. They can perhaps shed some light on
a few study tips that your professor has unintentionally neglected to share with the class.
Know The Summary Questions
Just because you finished reading a chapter doesn’t mean you’re done studying. Typically, the very last page after the chapter is done will include some questions to highlight key concepts of the chapter. Answer each question that they provide, citing page numbers and including quotations from the chapter. Lastly, make sure to look over the answered summary questions and save them along with your other study materials.
Take Care Of Yourself
What causes student burnout? Lack of regard for physical and emotional health is one of the main culprits. It is a common misconception for students to think that “self-care” equates to procrastination. However, self-care is a necessary study tool.
How you take care of yourself is up to you, but experts recommend the following self-care practices:
3.) Proper Nutrition
4.) Cleaning your living space
There are many ways to accomplish the list above, so it’s important that you find ways to incorporate self-care practices that fit your specific needs and lifestyle.
Diversify Your Studying
According to a recent Harvard study, “Research has shown that studying a range of subjects in one sitting actually leads to higher retention than focusing on one area of study.” Overloading your brain with one subject can actually be damaging. It’s important that you switch up what you’re studying so that you can stay engaged with your academic work. It’ll save you time and energy both in the short and long-term.
In the end, nothing beats hard work and intellectual curiosity. But, you can go the extra mile to improve your test scores and grades. Adopting productive habits will improve your life and make you a more balanced individual.