Young White woman in red plaid shirt taking test at desk between two men

5 Things You Need to Ace Any Test

When you have all five of these items, tests won't feel nearly as intimidating!

All the way through high school and into college, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with tests—that is, I love it when they’re over and hate it when they’re still looming over me! Fortunately, however, with years of exams behind me, I’ve identified a few things that help me feel prepared for those terrifying test days. Following these five tips, test day won’t feel nearly as intimidating!

1. Study time

This one should be a given, but sometimes we don’t schedule out smart, strategic study time. For example, pulling an all-nighter to cram is a very poor strategy. Sure, some people can pull it off once in a while, but losing sleep actually makes it harder to retain info, not to mention makes you grumpy and less focused on your test day. Instead, be aware of how you retain material best. For my ITS class, I found it helpful if I re-typed my programs several times a week—that was around 10–15 minutes a day. However, for my history class, I was better off if I spent several hardcore hours reviewing the study guide nearer to the test day.

If you don’t know your study style yet, I would recommend that you plan to begin reviewing notes a week or two in advance of any test. Make sure to add into your daily schedule too—if not, “study time” will turn into “Starbucks and Netflix time.” (Trust me.) Finally, if you find yourself struggling with the material, include tutoring or meeting with your professor in this study time. Most tests will rely on your understanding of the material, not just your memorization of it!

Related: Our Best Advice for Homework, Studying, and Tests

2. A good night’s sleep

I know I sound like your mother, but it’s true! As I mentioned above, being tired on the test day is no fun. You’ll be much less focused and much more moody, and therefore you may struggle with actually taking the test. However, if you are well rested, you will feel much more prepared and confident. (And you’ll be able to remember everything you need to bring!) To make sure that you get the sleep you need, consider giving yourself a specific curfew, whether it’s 9:30 or 11:00. After this time, you need to be in bed, and that does not include scrolling through Tumblr! Some people believe that screen time can also affect how well you sleep and how quickly you fall asleep, so it could be a good idea to put away the laptop and phone half an hour or an hour before bed. Instead, get a shower, hang out with a friend, or pick up a book—those Marvel headcanons will still be there when you’ve rocked your test.

3. Your power outfit/comfortable shoes/your lucky charm/a pep talk

This one is all about what makes you feel confident. Personally, I feel way more prepared to succeed if I’m wearing my favorite outfit—even for an 8:00 am exam. However, some people are built up by other methods, like a pep talk, a chat with a friend, or a little quiet time. Not only will you do better on your exam when you feel sure of yourself, but you will be more prepared to face the whole day!

4. Multiple pencils

A low-tech tip, but an important one! Always bring at least two pencils to an exam, especially if it’s a long haul like the SAT or ACT. Even though the days of standardized tests are behind me, I’m still in the habit of bringing an extra pencil. You never know when something will go wrong with your first one, or when your neighbor will have forgotten to bring hers. That way, you won’t need to ask to stop the exam partway through or write your test in pen.

Note: Most professors have several extra pencils around just in case, but it’s always better to bring your own! You never know when theirs will be less sharp or with terrible erasers, and sometimes it’s not a room that they are used to, so it’ll be hard to get supplies.

5. The right attitude

In this girl’s humble opinion, a good attitude is the most important test-day accessory! As someone with mild test anxiety, I spent all of high school panicking over my tests and placing way too much weight on my performance. It’s hard to get over anxiety, but it’s important to try to stay as positive as possible. Remember that you are going to try your hardest, and that is all you can do! If you have studied, odds are you will do well, and even a mediocre score is not the end of the world. You aren’t defined by your final exam percentage, and you aren’t a better or a worse person depending on your test performance. If you keep up with studying and put your all into the test, you should be proud of yourself!

Let’s chat: how do you prepare for a test? Let us know on Twitter @CollegeXpress!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Tags:

About Dia Huth

Dia has been writing for, roughly speaking, forever. Her first stories were about 162 imaginary ponies that “lived” in her backyard, but now she has graduated to penning sci-fi novels and tweeting like a madwoman. After a cross-country move her senior year of high school, she’s proud to be a part of Campbell University’s Class of 2019! Besides writing, she loves art, pilates, and foreign films.

 

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Chris Bell

Chris Bell

Bell College Consulting

The college lists on CollegeXpress are indispensable for sussing out creative additions to a student’s list, and the college-specific pages provide terrific commentary and suggestions for related schools. CollegeXpress is among the most trusted sources I use for information for my students.

Mataya Mann

Mataya Mann

High School Class of 2022

To say that CollegeXpress is a helpful tool would be an understatement as it is much more than that. Before finding CollegeXpress, all I knew was that I wanted to go to college, it was going to be insanely expensive, and I felt lost. CollegeXpress has given me access to resources such as helpful tips for applications and scholarship [opportunities], and helped guide me in a direction where I feel confident moving forward and pursuing a career. CollegeXpress has helped instill a spark in me that makes me want to continue and supports me in doing so.

Sonny Harris

Sonny Harris

College Student

For the entire year before college, I spent a lot of time deeply considering what major I wanted to go into and how to fund my higher education. After a lot of research, I came across CollegeXpress, which helped me ultimately find a ton of scholarships for which I could apply—and some of which I received! If it weren’t for CollegeXpress, I may not have found those scholarships as they didn't appear on any other scholarship search forum. Additionally, I learned more about the options I had been considering for my major through CollegeXpress’s resources. In the end, I chose to major in Computer Science, as it seemed best suited to me and the careers in the field seemed enjoyable, and I've never been more excited to move into my future! Ultimately, I want to thank CollegeXpress for offering their services. I received enough financial aid in scholarships to fund my entire freshman year of college and even got some money refunded which I used to purchase a new laptop, and I bought all of the books I needed for the semester!

Caitlin Eaton

Caitlin Eaton

$10,000 Scholarship Winner, 2021

I first discovered CollegeXpress during my sophomore year of high school while researching colleges that interested me. My SAT prep class the following year further familiarized me with the opportunities available through the organization. CX has personally helped me by exposing me to a diverse selection of schools as well as scholarships and life tips that have provided valuable guidance in my college search.

This scholarship will help me adjust to college life without worrying as much about tuition. This gives me more room to truly explore and benefit from all aspects of higher education. I plan to study Conservation Biology and work protecting species/ecosystems. I’m looking forward to getting field experience and seeing firsthand the problems research is solving.

Amari Toussaint

Amari Toussaint

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped me narrow my school choices down from 10 schools to four and then two. It also gave me information on a school I had never heard about or thought about attending until now, which is the school I will be attending in the fall. I am thankful for CollegeXpress and its helpful tools.

College Matches
X

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Pacific University

Forest Grove, OR

Agnes Scott College

Atlanta, GA

Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI

Boston University

Boston, MA