School is back. Students, we know what you’re feeling. It’s a mixture of excitement, not so much excitement, and dread. But with the right study skills in place, you can step into the year with confidence.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll keep throwing some tips your way to help you get back into the swing of things. Today, give these simple test-taking tips a shot to boost those grades.
1. Flip the script
One simple way you can improve test scores is to change the experience by changing the story. We’ve written about this here, but it’s so important that we’ve decided to remind our readers of it. Students who go into tests with anxiety tend to do worse than those who go in with excitement.
But here’s the great thing about this test-taking tip: the physical experience is essentially identical. The difference is not a physical one, it’s a mental one.
Tell yourself a different story. Tell yourself you’re excited. Choose to be excited about conquering the test in front of you, and you’ll find that you really will conquer it.
2. Use a sheet of scratch paper every chance you get
Scratch paper can be incredibly helpful is you use it the right way. So what is that “right way”?
Scratch paper is basically an easy way to make those thoughts that are swirling around in your head visual and concrete. Too frequently students attempt to answer the test questions without ever getting their thoughts down on paper. They remain abstract, floating concepts that aren’t really connected.
If you ever hit test question that you’re not sure how to answer immediately (which, for me, is just about every single test), always start with what you do know. Get those things out there on your piece of scratch paper.
Once the related ideas are out of your head, you can usually do a better job of figuring out the correct answer.
3. Connect, connect, connect, connect, connect
You can count these as five tips or three tips. It doesn’t really matter to us. All that really matters is that you know one of the really, really, really important test-taking tips is that you need to connect everything. Most of the time students hit test-taking troubles because they have learned loads of information, but they haven’t connected these ideas together.
Your memory works by connection. Do not short-circuit it by memorizing tons of info in isolated chunks. If you know how every idea you’re learning connects to every other idea, you’ll likely find answering test questions to be much, much easier.
4. Fail at home, not in class
You will miss test questions. It’s inevitable.
Just choose to miss them at home, not on the test. Quiz yourself a lot.
If you haven’t quizzed yourself enough, you’ll miss easy questions on your test. If you’ve prepped by quizzing a bunch, you’ll probably nail most of the test super easily. I know you’re probably thinking, “It can’t be that easy!” But it can. Give it a shot.
What test-taking tips would you add? We’d love to hear them on social media!