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TestSMART: Student Toolkit

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TestSMART: Student Toolkit

Here's the secret to acing the big test.

There is no secret. The classic advice still holds true: Being prepared is the best way to reduce test-taking anxiety. And don't cram til you're numb, because it's like pouring water over an already full glass. Researchers say it's more effective to spread out studying across days or weeks before big test. Like your parents always tell you, get plenty of rest and don't forget that nutritious breakfast.

Here are the TestSMART: Top Ten Tips to help you do your best on the test:

Timing is everything: Why add more stress by rushing? Pack supplies the night before, get there early, get yourself comfortable, and you"ll be ready to go.

Laser focus: Stay relaxed by keeping your mind on the task at hand. If you start to feel overwhelmed, take deep breaths to regulate your breathing and mentally focus on taking bite-sized pieces of the test, one question at a time, like stones you must jump to, to cross the river.

READ THE DIRECTIONS: Those tricky test makers are always tweaking things, so don"t assume it's the same old format. Reading directions saves you from making simple-to-avoid mistakes.

Think volume: The object is to answer as many questions as you can in the time given. But if you don't immediately know the answer, skip the question and then come back if there's time at the end. Keep checking your answer sheet to make sure you've left space for questions you skipped, so you don't, for example, answer #6 on line #7.

Noteworthy: It helps to write down important formulas, facts, definitions and/or keywords in the margin first so you won't worry about forgetting them. But first ask if you can make notes on scratch paper or the booklet.

Essay magic: With essay questions, first do a quick outline of your response with your points in order of importance. If you run out of time, you will have covered the most important ground.

Good guess: When the answer isn't completely clear, try eliminating the choices you know are wrong. Chances are, by process of elimination you can find the answer.

Be brave: Resist the urge to flee as soon as you have finished. Just take a deep breath and dive back into the test, checking your work. Tackle the hard ones you left blank.

Personal best: Don't worry about how quickly others finish their tests. Simply concentrate on your own work and don't lose time and focus by looking around. Besides, other people might look stressed and anxiety can be as contagious as a yawn. So what if some hotshots finish before you? Remember you're going for your own personal best, so stay focused.

Just rewards: Afterward, don't obsess about what might have been. Instead, be realistic and remind yourself it was only a test and reward yourself with something yummy or fun. Because you did it!