Prevent low test scores

By Laura Yaun

Studies have shown that anxiety and depression compete with the working memory in the brain. Expressive writing has been proven to help depressed and traumatized people overcome emotional worries that take up the working memory space of their brains. Students who are given the opportunity to write about their worries, test related or not, before an exam, achieve higher grades.

In addition to writing away your worries, below are…

15 simple, but often forgotten about, ways to help students test successfully

1.Review materials after each class when it is still fresh in your mind. Study throughout the course. Cramming the night before is not enough time for your brain to retain all of the information that you need. Studying for two hours at a time, completely concentrated is more conducive than studying for eight hours straight.

2.Practicing problems, rereading materials, rewriting your notes, and drawing pictures or graphs will help burn the information into your mind.

3.Read aloud or teach what you’ve learned to a friend or family member. Talking about it helps you understand it even better. Also, they may ask a question that you can’t answer, so you would know what to brush up on.

4.Review studied material when you wake and right before sleep. When you sleep, your brain will process what you have just learned. When you wake, your brain is fresh and more susceptible to new information.

5.Sleep well the night before an exam so your brain is functioning optimally.


6.Eat a small, high-protein meal before your exam. Eating too much will only make you sleepy and uncomfortable so only eat enough to satisfy your stomach and your brain with nutritious food. Avoid fatty, high-sugar, and processed foods. Not eating because of a nervous stomach is bad too. Eating protein, omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables will help your brain recall information more clearly and will help you stay focused longer. Zinc can also help your brain process short-term and long-term memories. It also helps you focus and concentrate better. Also, drink plenty of water to keep hydrated.

7.Do not be late! Running late causes unneeded stress before an exam. Arrive early so you have time to…

8.Take a few moments right before the exam to close your eyes, breathe deeply and slowly, and imagine an “A” or a “100%” on your exam. Think positively. Be confident about your knowledge of the test material and of your test-taking performance. Concentrate on being calm and collected and always believe in yourself.

9.Don’t converse with the class before the test. Other people’s anxiety may rub off on you. A once-confident student may be burdened by another’s insecurities. Keep confident in the fact that you will do great. If you have a specific question, ask your professor to explain it to you before class.

10.Focus on the moment, not the consequences if you do poorly. Many students know the material but test poorly because they are concerned about how this test will affect their future. Take it one step at a time and breath.

11.Once the exam is handed out, write down any tips, graphs, or charts that you remember clearly to coach you through the exam. Sometimes the material you are so confident about gets scrambled together once you start reading the questions. Students often confuse themselves and second guess their answers. If you write down guides before reading the questions, it may help you keep on track throughout the exam.

12.Skim through the exam so you know how to delegate your time and stay calm.

13.Read all directions carefully and thoroughly to make sure you understand exactly what is being asked of you.

14.If you don’t know the answer to a question, highlight it, then move on and go back to it after you’ve answered questions you do know.  Often later questions will spur your memory.  If you are unclear about what it is asking, don’t be ashamed to ask your professor to explain it to you. They want you to succeed.

15.Review your answers before you turn in your exam to make sure no answers were accidentally left blank or answered in the wrong spot. Changing your answers is not suggested. Often times, your first instinct is the correct one. Unless you know absolutely that it needs to be changed, leave it alone. Don’t second guess yourself!

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