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Test Taking Tips to Boost Your Confidence and Grade

You have spent hours upon hours reading, reviewing notes, and asking yourself hypothetical questions. Now the big day is here – exam day, that is. You are ready, but still feeling a bit anxious. If possible, get a bit of morning exercise, eat a nutritious breakfast, and grab a bottle of water for the road … then take a deep breath as you approach the classroom. Remember, you have worked hard, and you can do this!

Parul Shah, assistant director of tutorial services in the Learning Assistance Center at Howard Community College, offers the following test taking tips to help students remain calm, positive, and focused on exam day:

  • Read the entire test first. Before you begin, take a few minutes to read the directions and exam entirely, top to bottom. Doing so will help you understand the full scope of the questions you are being asked and will also allow you to budget your time appropriately so that you can get through the exam within the time you have to complete it.
  • Start with the questions you are certain you know the answer to. If you are 100 percent sure of the answer, go ahead and fill it in. This will boost your confidence and the feeling that you are “on track” from the start. Flag and come back to anything you get stuck on.
  • Look for clues within the test. If you do not know the answer to a question, there is a possibility that other questions on the test itself may provide a clue or even the answer to the question you are having trouble with. So pay close attention!
  • Don’t look around the room. Wondering if your peers are acing this exam or also struggling with some of the questions? Don’t! Try not to worry about the other students in the class and how they are performing in comparison. Focus on the only test that matters – your own.
  • Listen to your instincts. If more than one answer comes to mind, write both in the margin or on a spare sheet of paper. Sometimes seeing the options noted in writing makes the correct answer more obvious. If you continue to struggle, listen to your instincts; the first answer that comes to mind is often the correct one. 
  • Review your test for accuracy and completeness. Once you have answered all of the questions, don’t be so quick to jump up and hand the exam in. Take a little time to review your answers for accuracy, and by all means make sure you didn’t skip any questions or even entire pages!

When it’s all said and done and the only thing left to do is wait for the grade to be posted, go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back. Remind yourself that you worked hard, gave it your best shot and learned a lot in the process of preparing for that test.

Once finals are over, you want to be sure you are prepared for next semester! Check one more thing off your “to do” list – register for classes before you leave campus for the holidays. Visit

Topics: Campus Life
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