Taking tests has to be one of the top fears of most students. Next to the spelling bee, nothing quite says “let’s see if you have what it takes” like taking a test. (At least when you miss something on a test, it stays private — unlike when I spelled “Falcon” with two “L”s in the first round of the second grade spelling bee. For the record, that clearly should have been a second round word. No, I’m not totally bitter. Yes, I’m a slightly scarred. But my therapist says I’m making progress.)
Not every test is bad. Sometimes they’re nice tests. You show up a bit nervous, but then it turns out that you can use your notes. Or — even better — you can work as a group and use your books. Or — still better yet — the test only has one question and you know the answer already. Nice, huh? It’s always helpful when that’s the case. You don’t even really need study skills when that’s the case.
But most tests aren’t that easy.
Most tests are a bit more stressful.
We’ve all been there. We’ve had to take those tests we’ve dreaded for weeks. No test is great, but some tests are truly terrible. You know the kind. You have 450 vocab words to regurgitate. Or you have 3 hours of essays to write. Or you forgot about it until that morning.
How do you maximize your performance when you’re in one of these monster tests? There is one big key we want to communicate today — and it will help on every test.
When taking tests, change the story of your nervous energy
Everyone gets nervous. Almost without exception, every one of us will experience some type of nervous energy when going into a test. In fact, if you don’t, it probably means you don’t care. Here’s why this is important.
We can divide students into 2 basic categories when it comes to taking tests.
1) The Nervous Test Takers
These are the students who know what’s on the line, and they aren’t sure if they’re going to perform well. Taking tests is a stressful, nervous, jittery experience.
And they do not like it at all.
2) The Excited Test Taker
The second group of students also experiences some nervous energy when they’re taking a test. In fact, the experience is nearly the same. Here’s the key difference, though: this group tends to get excited rather than nervous.
The physical experience between the two is nearly identical. But the “Excited Test Taker” is far more likely to experience success.
Get prepared seriously — but don’t take the actual test as seriously
That’s right. Students who relax and tell themselves that they’re excited, not nervous — those are the students that experience the best performance on tests. It’s simple, but it works. Flip the storyline and relax; your grades will thank you.
Know a student who could use this simple tip for improving their ability to take tests? Spread the knowledge socially!