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How to Ace Any Test in Middle School, High School, and Beyond

Updated on June 5, 2011


There's a ball in your stomach. You're sweating and the thought of failing another test is looming in the back of your mind as the teacher begins to distribute the exam. Sound familiar?

For many, testing in school is a source of serious stress, but it doesn't have to be. Follow these simple steps and you won't worry about another test the rest of your life. Who am I to tell you what to worry about? Well, in addition to being a stress free test taker my entire life, I'm also a teacher, so I know a thing or two about test taking. Take my advice and you'll be stress free for the rest of your academic career.

Step 1: Calm Down

It's just a test. I know you've heard that before, but you really need to understand that in the grander scheme of your life this moment will be more than likely forgotten. Chances are, your entire course grade isn't riding on this one test, and even if it is, it's just one course. You'll be taking plenty more in your academic career, and there's really no need to get too worked up about any one test. Studies show that an increased stress level can affect motor skills and thinking, so freaking out about how important the test is will actually make you do worse. Don't worry about the test. Just take it.

Step 2: Don't Cram

Studying for 15 hours straight before a test is counterproductive. In addition to being tired, you're only going to comprehend a minimal amount of the information. If it's the day before the test and you haven't bothered to study yet, I would suggest maybe an hour total. Get a good overview and go from there. You're wasting your time if you're cramming. Look the material over briefly, and then let your mind rest for a little bit. You're either going to know the information or you're not. When it comes to studying, less is more. Focus more in class and study less in your free time.

Step 3: Don't Waste Time

So many students run out of time taking tests because they spend the majority of it on one particular question. If you don't know the answer to something, move on! The answer isn't going to magically appear. If you're unsure, move to the next question and continue on through the entire test that way. When you've finally finished, go back through and try to find those answers.

Step 4: Make Educated Guesses

If you've gone through the test and you're still unsure about some answers, it's okay to guess. However, your guess shouldn't be blind. Take a guess based on the other materials related to the topic that you've found in the test. Eliminate answers that you know are wrong. Once you've narrowed it down, you should have no problem guessing correctly more often than not.

Step 5: Fill Up the Page

If there are any writing portions on the test, you should write until you run out of space. Students cringe at essay tests, but the formula for success is simple. All you really need to do is make a strong introduction, have a point that you're making, and fill the page up. Think about this for a moment: the person grading your test may have to read thousands of answers for that one question. Instructors will definitely read your introduction, they'll definitely want to understand the point of your paper, and they're definitely going to be looking at length. Cover those three basis, and more often than not you're going to get full points for your written answer.

Step 6: Don't Review After the Test

Once you've locked an answer in, you're done for the day. Don't go back and look through all of your answers once you've finished. You'll only second guess yourself, and chances are that the first answer you came up with was your best shot at getting the question right anyway. Once you've finished, make sure you've answer all questions, and then turn the darn thing in to your teacher. There is no reason to sit and stress over every little detail.


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