Taking Tests and Exams

“Do every day or two something for no other reason than you would rather not do it, so that when the hour of dire need draws nigh, it may find you not unnerved and untrained to stand the test.”
—William James, American philosopher and psychologistStudyCycle_rev15_notext-02

Good ways to cope with stress about an upcoming test or exam:

  • Be sure to consult your syllabus! Many professors will include testing format, what materials will be covered, etc.
  • If the syllabus doesn’t have the answers, ask questions such as:
    • Which topics, chapters, and other materials will be covered on the test?
    • What will the format be? Essay, short answer, multiple choice, etc.?
    • Will points be deducted for spelling or grammar mistakes?
    • How detailed will answers need to be?
  • Attend review sessions with the professor or form study groups with other students.
  • Begin to review your notes ahead of the night before the exam.
  • Avoid all-nighters! You will recall information better if you have a full night’s sleep.

How will I ever survive the test?

  • Focus on what you have control over. You can answer the questions to the best of your ability. Let go of what you can’t control — the grading process.
  • Think carefully about the possible answers. Don’t get so in depth you forget the easiest parts of the answer.
  • Spend more time on the questions worth more points. Try not to panic over a 5 point question and run out of time on a 25 point question.
  • Try to keep positive thoughts about your efforts! Being determined to work hard and do your best will help you to be successful.

Related Links & Handouts

Relaxation Techniques
Some General Remarks about Exams
How to keep calm during tests
Taking tests
Definition of terms used in essay examinations