Thinking ahead to test day is important. From the moment you wake up in the morning, your actions should all be designed to optimize your test taking experience – any academic tutor will tell you that what you do before entering the testing room will impact your test performance.
After weeks of standardized test preparation, there are many (silly) ways to detract from your potential. For example, you might eat too big a breakfast and show up the test feeling sluggish; or, you might get lost finding the classroom and arrive to the test late. SAT tutors and biology tutors alike know what these factors might mean for your grade on the exam – whether it’s a midterm, SAT subject test, AP exam, or recitation for French class.
But, don’t fear! It’s easy to avoid these kinds of disturbances or missteps. This is an important study skills tidbit: the key to being ready on test day is planning ahead. Review the 7 tips below to make sure you are prepared for the testing experience:
1. Eat and drink before the test, but not right before.
Eat a well-balanced breakfast at least 1 hour before the test is supposed to begin. Don't deviate too much from your standard morning routine. Drink coffee if you normally do. If you don't normally like coffee, don't drink it! You want to feel comfortable and at ease.
2. Get in the mood.
Think about the discipline in which you are being tested. Mentally review the content you have studied and refer to your cheat sheet (work with an academic tutor to make one as test day approaches to make sure you are clear on major concepts) to reinforce or clarify any questions.
3. Think through the test strategy that you have studied.
Again, your time traveling to the test is a great to mentally outline the test strategy that you have covered. Think about how you plan to approach the different types of questions on the test.
4. Wear a watch.
Almost every test - whether you're taking an SAT, a physics test, or a chinese language exam - will be timed specifically. Make sure you wear a watch so that you can keep track of your progress and slow down or speed up as you go. You don't want to be caught when time's up with only half of the exam finished!
5. Arrive early so you have time to get settled.
Taking a test isn't fun. Don't add to the pressure by feeling rushed.
6. Take your time with the directions and questions.
Once you get started on the test, take your time reading the directions, as well as each individual answer. As an SAT tutor, I have had many students score lower on a test than they should have, not because they didn't know the answer, but because they misread the question!
7. Be confident.
Go in there and trust in yourself.