Exams and Test-Taking Preparation Approaches

Test Anxiety

Students need to take numerous tests during their studies, which can often be a stressful experience for many. Some of the reasons for the difficulty of test-taking include the complexity of the associated material, the need for certain skills, a short period of time given to complete assignments. All these peculiarities may seem overwhelming and cause a lot of stress or even anxiety. In order to avoid the development of anxiety symptoms, it is necessary to be a confident test-taker, improve one’s test preparation, and acquire specific skills and problem-solving abilities.

Anxiety linked to the fear of doing poorly during a test tends to have a negative impact on people’s performance on tests. It has been estimated that nearly ten million people struggle. It has also been acknowledged that the level of anxiety correlates with the results as the higher anxiety is, the lower performance becomes. Anxiety harms problem-solving abilities and limits brain activity preventing an individual from recalling the necessary material. The symptoms may persist weeks before the test and bring many sleepless nights prior to the assigned date.

Reducing Anxiety

In order to reduce anxiety or even prevent the development of the related symptoms, people may try to acquire test-taking skills and prepare for the test properly. One of the ways to prepare for a test can be assessing non-academic areas. Such simple behaviors as keeping to a healthy diet and having proper sleep patterns can be effective in reducing anxiety as well. Prior to the test, it is possible to use a number of strategies that can be instrumental in curbing anxiety. The student should relax, take deep and slow breaths, visualize, and remain positive. In addition to the physical tools mentioned above, it is important to start with simple questions, write down information and avoid being discouraged during the test. Some of the tips that can be helpful for many test-takers are considered below.

For a successful and less stressful experience, it is necessary to arrive early for the test. The person needs to locate the most appropriate place for them and relax sitting comfortably (and with their eye closed if possible). Proper breathing is critical for avoiding stress or anxiety as the person should hold their breath for several seconds, and repeating these physical activities several times can be relaxing. When sitting straight in the chosen seat, the person may put their arms at the sides, close their eyes and try to relax for several seconds. This can be repeated several times with a 20-second break.

Test-Taking Strategies


Some of the most effective test-taking strategies are easy to perform. For instance, the student should understand clearly what is being asked. This understanding enables the person to find the right and most complete answer. In order to understand the question correctly, it is necessary to identify the critical elements of the question, analyze the available choices (identifying the most obvious distractors), and prioritize questions.

A savvy test-taker knows the answers to the following questions:

  1. What time management strategies should be followed when taking a test?
  2. Should directions be read and the way questions are scored understood?

Obviously, time management skills are pivotal for proper performance during the test, and those who lack these skills are likely to fail or perform poorly. The test-taker has to estimate the difficulty of each task and the time needed to address it. For example, in order to successfully complete the test (or a portion of an exam), a student may need to spend 24 minutes to write an essay and invest 18 minutes in addressing multiple-choice questions.

As far as the directions are concerned, it is important to read them carefully and access each point value. For example, the test-taker needs to look at the following directions: essay 3 (40 points) each multiple-choice question is worth one point. This information is helpful for prioritizing, which is specifically important when time limits are tough. The student should search for specific information and clarify any uncertainties that may emerge. It is critical to remain concentrated and pay attention to keywords (such as not, worse, except, never, later, always, next, before, and so on). The order of questions and tasks plays an important role, so it should be noted as well. It is also essential to pay attention to numbers (word limit, question numbers, and so on).

Behaviors to avoid when taking a test are associated with negative emotions. First of all, the student should not panic during a test. It is unacceptable to argue with the instructor or try to argue with the text. In both cases, the outcomes will be negative and time- (and energy-) consuming. It is necessary to accept the fact that the test-taker will answer the questions they may dislike. The student cannot afford to waste time by being angry or upset.

Calculations and Multiple-Choice Questions

It is also possible to consider some practical tips for addressing specific types of assignments. For instance, calculations can be carried out effectively if the student takes their time, uses their calculator, and double-checks their answers. These simple steps will help in avoiding preventable errors and receiving high scores. Multiple-choice questions are a common type of assignment to perform during the test. When doing these tasks that may be difficult, the student needs to second guess on their own and identify the distractors. Some hands-on strategies include such techniques as the identification of wrong answers, covering all choices, and trying to answer the questions. Students should watch for the all-of-the-above option and pay attention to such words as never, always, only, will, must, should / should not, or all. Making educated guesses and working backward are helpful strategies as well. It is beneficial to trust one’s instincts as they tend to be based on the acquired knowledge.

Essay Writing Tips

Essay tests may take two forms, so students may be asked to write a long or a short essay (or both). Before starting to write, students need to read the prompts carefully and estimate the exact time needed to address each question. The development of an outline will help to be focused and ensure that all questions are addressed. Students should utilize examples and vocabulary, structure their essay properly, use headings if necessary.

One of the major recommendations associated with this task is to be organized and express ideas concisely and clearly. When it comes to handwritten essays, the handwriting must be eligible. Students must check whether they addressed all parts of the question or prompt and all questions. It is necessary to remember that partial credit is better than nothing, so test-takers need to address at least some parts of the question. The students must make sure they expressed all ideas they planned to include. The essay should be easy to follow and free of any grammar or spelling errors. Some helpful words to include in the essay are criticize, analyze, define, compare, contrast, describe, diagram, discuss, enumerate, evaluate, explain, and illustrate. Proofreading is the key to test-takers’ success as it is instrumental in spotting errors or weaknesses. It is also important to remember some activities to be undertaken after the test. For example, students should attend the review session, asking questions or discussing important issues. Joining a study group and interacting with other students sharing experiences is a valuable experience.

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ChalkyPapers. 2022. "Exams and Test-Taking Preparation Approaches." August 13, 2022. https://chalkypapers.com/exams-and-test-taking-preparation-approaches/.

1. ChalkyPapers. "Exams and Test-Taking Preparation Approaches." August 13, 2022. https://chalkypapers.com/exams-and-test-taking-preparation-approaches/.


ChalkyPapers. "Exams and Test-Taking Preparation Approaches." August 13, 2022. https://chalkypapers.com/exams-and-test-taking-preparation-approaches/.