For many people, taking a standardized test ranks somewhere between getting a root canal and waiting for hours at the DMV. Even when you’re confident in your knowledge of the subject matter, there’s no denying that testing can be anxiety-inducing. Thankfully, though, there are a number of helpful strategies that can help ensure the best possible score. The next time you’re taking a big test, try on one of these five strategies that are sure to help you get the best possible results.
Master the Process of Elimination
The last thing you want to do on a big, important test is guess. On the other hand, an educated guess may be the only option if you’re truly stumped. While most of us have been employing the process of elimination testing strategy since elementary school, it’s not always executed as well as we expect it is. Before eliminating a single answer, ask yourselves this important question: are any of the options obviously incorrect?
Starting from the obvious point provides a greater likelihood of you getting this answer right. The process of elimination strategy is one that leverages your knowledge of the answer choices rather than of the question itself. Any option you’re confident is wrong should be eliminated. The more you eliminate confidently, the better the odds that you’ll get the right answer.
Go with Your Gut
When you read a question and quickly recognize that you don’t know the answer, it’s easy to buy into the sinking feeling in your stomach. Anxiety quickly sets in, sending visions of you failing through your mind. That kind of pressure is a surefire way to kill your confidence and threaten your chance at success. Rather than buy into negativity, simply acknowledge that you’re not sure about the answer. Then re-read the question and listen to your gut.
What does it mean, though, to listen to your gut? We like to think of it as your relaxed, confident subconscious prodding you in the right direction. Our brains have a way of finding patterns and getting excited by them. Even if you can’t remember the exact reason you know something, your brain will alert you to the fact that an answer seems right. Don’t fight the feeling.
There’s nothing worse for testing than nerves. While it’s good not to be overly confident, anxiety can set you up for self-doubt, causing you to second guess questions you’d normally feel good about. Rather than buying into the jitters, take a moment to get mindful about your surroundings. A few deep breaths can clear away the anxiety and ensure you’re not getting in the way of your own success.
Do like as the meditation masters do and give square breathing a try. For four seconds, breathe in through your nose and push as much air as possible into your stomach. Then hold this breath in for another four seconds. Breathe out again for four seconds, this time allowing your stomach to retract. Hold for another four seconds and begin a second round if you’re still feeling anxious. You’d be surprised how centering a few strategic breaths can be!
Practice Makes Perfect
Just like when playing a difficult piece on the piano or throwing the perfect pitch, nothing impacts your results more than time spent practicing. Studying is a great start for preparing for a test, but there’s nothing quite like practice testing for real results.
There are countless resources online to help you prepare for an exam, but finding a low-cost way to take practice tests is the best option for anyone hoping to improve their score. Of course, simply taking the test and seeing what score you get isn’t likely to help up your odds the next time you sit for the exam. Instead, give your best effort and then go back through the answers you got wrong to understand why you made the mistakes you did.
Manage Your Time
Smartphones and other gadgets might be banned from the testing room, but virtually every exam allows students to bring a watch to monitor time. If you’ve been given an hour to complete a 60-question exam, for instance, spending 15 minutes on the first question just isn’t a good use of your time. While test administrators sometimes give warnings about your remaining time, relying on someone else to guide your progress just isn’t smart.
Whether you choose to employ all five of these strategies or just a handful of your favorites, they’re sure to help boost your score. While it’s easy to get caught up in the millions of variables that can impact your test, focus on what is within your control. At the end of the day, a test is designed to be as fair a gauge of your knowledge as possible. Take solace in the fact that you’re as prepared as possible and go into the exam with your head held high.
Thank you to Exam Edge for providing this content.