Top 10 Strategies for Test Days

  1. Go to bed at a reasonable time. Don’t stay up all night studying—you’re not likely to retain information you cram. Sleep is important for your brain to function at its best.
  2. Eat a small, healthy breakfast. Nerves may make your stomach upset, but eating something small and healthy can calm your nerves and give your brain and body fuel to perform well.
  3. Don’t arrive too early (or late)—just be on time. Getting there early gives you time to get nervous or hear others feeling nervous. Just be on time and avoid increasing your anxiety.
  4. Wear comfortable, but nice clothes. The way you look can impact your attitude and performance. Don’t attend in your pajamas but don’t dress for prom either. Wear something casual but nice that you feel comfortable and confident wearing.
  5. Sit somewhere you are less likely to be distracted. Avoid the door or windows. Pay attention to what you are doing and not how quickly others are progressing. Comparing yourself to others can cause nervousness and poor performance. Keep your mind on yourself.
  6. Don’t leave any questions blank. Answer with something to try to get points. Getting some points is better than getting 0 points.
  7. Read through the whole test first. Identify questions that are worth more points and harder questions. Answer the easiest questions and the questions worth the most points first.
  8. If your mind goes blank, don’t fret. This is common during tests. Take some deep breaths to ground yourself. If possible, go to another question or do something to reset your brain, like going and sharpening your pencil or progressive muscle relaxation (just a couple muscle groups). To combat this, do a “brain dump” as soon as you get the test, and write important formulas or information on the back of the test to refer to if needed.
  9. Re-read questions and review your answers. Allow time for this to make sure you answered the right question and check your work.
  10. If you are in doubt, your first instinct is often the right answer. Don’t spend time second-guessing yourself if you don’t have time. Do your best and keep moving through the test.