Test Taking Without Fear

Test-Taking without Fear

Most of us don’t enjoy taking tests, but by keeping up with reading assignments, noting important facts, and keeping good notes, students can learn how to take the anxiety out of test day.  Fear is natural.  We all react with fear in the face of danger and to many, test-taking represents potential danger.  Tests are important measures of our learning and usually compose a high percentage of our final grade in a class; therefore it is normal to feel some anxiety about test-taking.  Excess anxiety, however, or irrational fear can be crippling and make matters even worse. 

It is possible to avoid this type of fear and anxiety by following a simple set of guidelines.

Start practicing good study habits with the first day of class.

  • Keep up with all reading assignments, and make notes of important facts.
  •  Maintain good class notes and highlight points that your teacher emphasizes.
  • Never throw away returned quizzes, worksheets or themes; these are good study sources.
  • Neglecting these responsibilities almost always results in one having to cram for a test. This frantic, last-minute studying only creates confusion and increased anxiety.

 Be well prepared.

  • Find out from your teacher what type of test will be given. (i.e., essay, fill-in-the blank, multiple choice, etc.)
  • If you’re taking an aptitude or achievement test, find out 1) when and where the test will be and 2) whether or not you might be penalized for guessing at an answer – some tests to detract points and it may be best to leave a blank if you don’t know an answer.
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before the test.  If you’re well-rested, you’ll be much more relaxed, focused, and less likely to feel anxious.

Be organized.

  • Plan to arrive at a test a few minutes early to get settled and glance back over your notes.
  • Have all the necessary supplies permitted by your teacher ready before hand (i.e., pens, scratch-paper, calculators, etc.)

Pay attention to the situation.  

  • Listen to the instructions given by your teacher and those found on the test. Students often make needless mistakes because they haven’t read instructions carefully.        
  • Know how much time you will have so you can budget it effectively.
  • Read the instructions on your test before starting.
  • Skip questions that you can’t answer.  Return to them later.
  • Concentrate on your test, and avoid time-wasters such as looking up at the teacher, checking the progress of classmates, and watching the clock.  

Check over your test before turning it in.

Keep a file of all your tests.

  • Don’t ever throw a test away once it has been graded and returned.
  • Old tests are good study aids and analyzing them will help you develop better test-taking strategies.

Keep a positive outlook.

  • Know that you are in control of your study-habits and therefore you are also in control of your test-taking.
  • See tests as opportunities to prove yourself and your abilities.
  • Lastly, if you do well on a test, give yourself credit and know that you have the ability to perform well again.

Adapted from Test-Taking Without Fear – Study Guide, Educational Video Network, Huntsville, Texas 77340.