Taking exams is much more than what happens on the day. In fact, to do well, you can easily break down taking exams into two main parts. These are:
A. The Preparation
- Passing or failing will depend on whether you took the time to prepare. It is important to revise before your tests. If revision classes are offered, make every attempt to attend. Take practice tests if possible to get a feel for what to do.
- As simple as it sounds, make sure to have pens and pencils with you if you are taking a written test. If you are taking the test online, you may still need a writing implement so that you can jot down your thoughts before typing your answer.
- Get enough rest the night before any test. While some people can function on just a few hours of sleep, most students will be better able to focus after a good night’s sleep. You should aim for between seven and eight hours of sleep on the night before an examination. Sometimes this is not possible, but at least three hours of sleep is necessary.
- Try to get to your exam site before the starting time. Any number of things can happen that can cause a delay.
B. Taking the Exam
On the day of the exam, your level of preparation will make all the difference. This goes without saying, but some good tips for doing your best are:
- Relax. Nervousness can prevent you from thinking clearly. Wear suitable clothing to help make sure you are comfortable.
- Read the instructions carefully. Many students have failed not because they did not know the correct answers, but simply because they did not read and interpret the instructions correctly. Take your time, and re-read the instructions just to be sure you understand what is being asked. Depending on the type of exam, some instructors (or invigilator in some counties) will provide clarification.
- Look at each question before starting. This the best way to determine how much time each question should take. This also helps in identifying the easier questions to start with.
- Determine how much time to spend on each question. This is a good way to ensure that you attempt each question. Without budgeting your time, you can easily run out of time to complete all of the questions. Having a watch with you will help you keep track.
- Make an outline for essays. If you are working on essays, create an outline of what you know about the topic on a blank sheet of paper or in the margins of your working papers. Useful information includes dates, and names of people and places.
- Work on what you know. If you come upon a difficult question, do not think about the parts you cannot remember. Focus on the parts you do know, and sometimes that will be enough to get you through that question.
- If you are stuck on a question, leave it and move on to those that you can answer. If time allows, go back to it after you have completed all the others.
- Try to answer all the questions on your paper unless you will lose marks for incorrect answers.
- Take breaks. Take periodic breaks by closing your eyes and clearing your mind if possible. If you begin to feel stressed or anxious, this can help you to regain focus.
Finally, proofread your work before handing it in if time allows. At this time, do not change the answers unless you are sure that the original answer is incorrect.
After the exam, do not stress over how well you did. The exam is over and you cannot change your scores at this point in time. Becoming good at taking exams is a habit you develop over time. Find what works for you to ensure your success.