Let’s take all the information from thousands of pages and I’m going to pick ten questions out for you to answer. Ready? Fail! I’ll try to say this without sounding like a tool, but I’m a pretty smart cookie. My dad (step-dad of course, as I just wrote of my dad’s passing) is fond of saying that my brain works faster than my mouth. He’s not wrong. Nothing confounds me like a big ol’ test. I can know the material backwards and forwards and most of the time I am my own worst enemy in test-taking. I change right answers to wrong ones when I overthink them. I make stupid mistakes. I have a feeling it is why I am so good at writing. I was desperate to make up missed points in the writing portions! I have passed this trait onto my boys, the poor kiddos. My lucky daughter got the smarts, but got good test taking skills as well. I’m jealous, I gotta say!
The kicker is classes that confounded me at the time, like microbiology or geometry, make complete and total sense now. If only I had taken those tests again, a decade or so later! So, from my many, many (I won’t say HOW many) years of testing experience, these are some things I learned.
-Those things in BOLD in the book- know them. They’re IMPORTANT and BOLD for a bloody good reason.
-People are important-If you go into an Women of English Literature class and don’t spend a moment to learn about Jane Austen, you may have a problem. If it’s Psychology, Sigmund Freud. You get the idea.
-Associate things with something that makes sense or make up acronyms. One of my favorite chemistry acronyms is “LEO goes GER” and it means Loss of Electrons is Oxidation and Gain of Electrons is Reduction. Another fun one is “I like cats” and it means cations are positive while anions are negative. It doesn’t really matter if you aren’t a chemist, make up anything that helps YOU! If you like lyrics, make up a song.
-You don’t have to be the first to finish and you don’t have to be the last. Don’t just put down the first thought that comes to mind and not review your answers once you are done, but don’t spend hours going through each question with a fine tooth comb. At some point you have got to trust yourself.
-There is serious research that says you should be in the same state while studying and while taking the test. So, if you drank a cup of coffee, drink one before the test. Do NOT drink ten cups of coffee while studying, you will just be wired and likely won’t retain much at all. Try to stay away from alcohol and drugs. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but it has to be said.
-Relax. Tests are stressful. I once had an Anatomy and Physiology professor that told us he thought teachers were too easy on students these days (this was 10 years ago, but I digress). He gave fill in the blank tests, with no word bank. But going into that room with a fatalistic attitude helps nothing and you tend to not think as clearly when your brain is flooded with cortisol (the stress hormone). So, meditate, scream, do whatever you do to release stress, know and realize that you have studied and you know the material, surround yourself with positivity and go in there and KICK SOME ASS!!!