test taking tips

A Proven Test Taking Tip

There’s nothing worse than taking a test and watching as one of your classmate’s hands in a completed exam within the first twenty minutes and then walks out the door without a care in the world. From my experience, the entire class sighs in frustration and full panic sets in as you realize that you’ve only completed ten questions out of 100.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re assuming that the speedy test taker studied so hard the correct answers flew off the page and landed directly onto the answer sheet.

Just so you know, periodically I jot down the time students finish exams and then I analyze test scores based on those times. The speedy test taker? They typically finish last when it comes to grades, and here’s why. The speedy student didn’t actually study. It only takes a few minutes to randomly circle anything and I think you’d be surprised to find out that some students hand in blank blue books. Literally, not a single word! You know how long it takes to write nothing but your name? About a second.

Here’s my test taking advice. Don’t flip out when students are finishing ahead of you. You’re wasting valuable time worrying about others while losing your focus. Pace yourself and keep your head down. When a fellow student leaves suspiciously early, give yourself one second to chuckle because you now know the tail end of the Bell curve has just been accounted for.

Good luck on finals and slow it down!

test taking tips

Taking a Test – Slow Down!

  • Mike Fanelli

    As somebody who has always had a bit of test anxiety I really enjoyed reading this. Pacing yourself and not worrying about others in the class is great advice!

  • Yulissa Jimenez

    I HATE these things!

    For as long as i can remember, test taking has been my ultimate weakness… it was like Bane against Batman, and i was Bane because batman (the test) destroyed him. It was always a horrible feeling when i had to sit down, and face the fact that i was probably either going to fail miserably or barely pass. To be brutally honest though, i never studied as hard as i should. Any who, this blog entry offers great advice. It shows both that things aren’t always what they seem in a classroom filled with anxious students and also; professors DO understand the struggles we go through daily as college students. Keeping my head down is the best thing i have ever learned when taking an exam. For some reason or another, under the sweaty palms and gazing out the windows for the first 20 minutes of a test.. i found the answer. i told myself, “Self, focus on your test paper.. its just a paper it can’t hurt you unless you let it.” This is awesome advice.

  • Miranda Closson

    Focusing on yourself during a test is difficult especially when there are 20-30 other students around you. The scratching of the pencil hitting the paper and the sound of pencil tapping or even the random foot tapping. All these noises make me anxious but what makes me more anxious is when that one student gasps and walks up to place their test on the desk and they smile as they walk away. All you’re wondering is, DID THAT PERSON STUDY MORE THAN I DID. DID THAT PERSON GET A GOOD GRADE? IS THIS TEST EASY, AM I DOING BADLY? So many questions go through your head and start questioning your answers, your studying habits, your life.

  • Gregory Salwen

    The mere mention of a test is enough to send me from a room crying. I hate them. I
    always have, and probably always will. Tests are not an accurate portrayal of
    your knowledge, because of the anxiety linked to taking them, and potentially
    flunking them. Knowing something and really understanding the concept is very
    different than sitting for hours trying to find the right answer because simply
    having knowledge is not a graded thing. It is just being well informed on a

    It makes sense to me that the speedy test taker takes home the lowest grade. I am such a
    neurotic student when it comes to grades and tests. Exams especially, throw me
    for a loop. I always study very all the material I need to know; yet when I sit
    down to take the exam my nerves get the best of me. I am not great at taking tests
    that is just my reality. I have always been a very hesitant test taker because
    I second-guess myself to no end! I am not like this with anything else expect for
    grades and tests.

    Here is my thinking on exams. I always wished that school did not consist of constant
    testing, because I would get so much more out of the experience. I feel I would
    be more at east, and my focus would be on learning, not grades. This is one of
    the things about the educational system and how school works that drives me

    It does not surprise me at all that the “speedy student” did not study. That being said, I
    am disappointed and very surprised that anyone would be so foolish and careless
    as to hand in a blank test booklet. Why even show up? That is so humiliating
    for the student, and clearly shows that this person was either forced to go to
    college by his family, or is on the way to dropping out and losing his
    investment, not to mention his future.

    I really related to this post, and am going to take what you wrote to heart. For me, it
    is easier said than done to keep my cool, because I know what is at stake. I
    rarely look up from my desk when I am in “test taking” mode, so I wouldn’t
    notice what others are doing. I cannot afford to waste time focusing on other
    students, when the answers I need are in my head. I always say to myself, that
    I will go slow but I don’t always have the time to do that. I guess I do pace
    myself, but I know that some questions are worth double than others, so I am
    smart with my time. I love what you included about letting yourself laugh, and
    then carrying on. I will laugh in my head, as to not draw attention to myself,
    but believe me I will be laughing. Any student who wastes away their education
    deserves to be laughed at.

    By Gregory Salwen

  • Bailey Newman

    Before I begin to comment on the distractions in the classroom on the day of the test, I just want to say that everything about tests give me extreme anxiety. From the second that the test date is announced until the day of the test I feel ultimate pressure. It is planted in my brain as a constant reminder that I need to prove myself to someone of higher prestige. That in itself is stressful and exhausting. Now add all of your competitors in the classroom and all the distractions that could potentially hurt your grade. For these reasons alone I believe that written exams are not the best way to test someones knowledge.

  • Kristen Nicholson

    Test taking can be very stressful and cause anxiety for students. Throughout high school I never felt much pressure while taking tests because I felt comfortable. I felt comfortable in the atmosphere and felt safe having the same teachers for consecutive years. Meanwhile, in college I found myself having anxiety during tests. Being a college student results in a completely different atmosphere with new professors. My mind would race throughout an exam with the thoughts of “If I fail this final, it may result in having to repeat the course.” Being in a classroom with students exiting the exam after ten minutes adds to the pressure. As a student you can’t help but try and fly through the exam because you think you’re falling behind in time. I came to the conclusion from personal experiences and from this blog post that paying attention to anyone but yourself during an exam isn’t beneficial.

  • Daniel Martinez

    I would have to agree with some of the comments on this post. When it comes to test taking, my anxiety is on 100%. I am a horrible test taker, and get distracted very easily. I don’t worry about the person finishing before me. I tend to over think too much, resulting in bad grades. I have noticed after getting my results back, the answers I initially choose are the correct answers, but because I wasn’t confident, I selected the wrong answer. I can study weeks in advance, the day before, the hours before, and I’ll forget everything. It’s so weird, I’m just a horrible test taker. I mentally gather all the information that’s taught to me, but when it comes to making a decision, it goes out the window. No matter if I’m the fast test taker, or the slow test taker, I still don’t do great on tests. This is one thing I’m working on becoming better at.

  • Daniel Rawson

    As soon as I see that first person hand in their test and the seats in the class begin emptying out, my anxiety level is continuously increasing. I can’t keep my mind from racing and wondering whether or not I studied enough and if I am actually going to do well on this test. Whenever I see someone handing in their test or if I’m getting frustrated with a question I try to put my pencil down breathe and look away from the test for minute, I think about something else completely in an attempt to clear my head just as suggested. After this short break to refocus I attack the questions with a different mindset and perspective than the first time i read the question because I am completely focused on myself rather than worrying about what is going on around me. Assuming you budget your time correctly this approach allows for a sharper focus on each question especially when its a long test with a lot of questions.