The Fright of Test-Taking

In exams on October 30, 2009 at 4:29 pm

Photo by D Sharon Pruitt (thank you!)

This Saturday is Halloween, when we dress in costume, eat more candy than we dare at any other time of the year, and dare to be frightened. If you’re new to Halloween, check out The basics of Halloween. In California, many people also celebrate  el Dia de los Muertos, as a way of remembering those who have died.

In this season of fright, my mind wanders to one of the most frightening parts of the school year for students: test time. As a teacher, I’m not a big fan of tests. Depending on how it’s written, a test may or may not be a good measure of how much you learn, and if you get particularly nervous when you take tests, a test could be downright unreliable in showing how much you’ve taken in from the class. Still, tests are part of student life, and having a strategy for studying and for taking tests is important to life as a student.

As a student, I had a system to study for tests. I gathered all my notes (concentrating on what the teacher  emphasized most in class) and took them with me on a walk around the neighborhood. As I walked, I looked at my notes, reading them over and over. During the test, I kept my pace slow and steady, to help keep calm. I never loved tests, but when I used my little system, I didn’t mind them so much.

As you get ready for midterm season, you’ll want to get your own system for studying and test-taking. Here are a few ideas:

6 Ways to Ace Your Next Test,” by David Pierce of Hack College – This article includes some practical test prep and test taking tips, from getting enough sleep the night before the exam to studying by reading your notes out loud to yourself.

How to Ace Essay Questions Using the Three Minute Rule,” by Study Hacks – This post is from the archives of Study Hacks, but I think it’s worth looking at even almost a year later. It focuses on essay exams, and, as someone who has read a lot of student essay exams, I love the advice Study Hacks gives on how to calm down, focus, and get the writing done in a stressful situation.

How to Prepare for the TOEFL,” by University Language Services – The advice here is practical and may not be anything you haven’t heard already, but I think it’s still useful and worth repeating.


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