The last few semesters I have been at school I’ve noticed that I am a horrible test taker. Now that I look back, most of my exams in the past have always been average or a little below average. I still pass the class but not with the best grades. I put in the extra effort of studying and making sure I know what the answers are going to be on the exam, but when the exam comes around I get nervous or I blank out. Any advice on what I should do to improve my test scores?
Nervous test taker
This question, or one like it, comes my way every semester. I’m sure this is because test taking is one of those things all of us struggle with. I don’t know one person on this planet who doesn’t worry over tests, or blank out, or forget some of the stuff they’ve studied.
I remember one terrible test. I’d studied hard. And that meant I’d worked on studying for days. I didn’t do any cramming, or studying at the last moment, and I was actually going into the test with a clearer head than usual. When I got the test it was as if I’d never seen the material before. It felt as if I had stumbled into the wrong class and was mistakenly taking someone else’s test. What could I do?
I actually said a little prayer and finished the test, but I was too chicken to find out what I’d received for a grade. It was the last test of the semester and as I waited for my final grade to be posted online I had little desire to check on my last test score. When I received my final grade of an A, I was surprised but grateful. I chalked it up to the extra credit I’d done during the semester—I figured the extra work I’d been allowed to turn in during the semester had saved my sorry butt.
But I was too chicken to find out what really happened and so it remains today…a mystery.
My advice to you is to spend more of your time studying and less time stressing out. Don’t worry in advance what may happen in the negative; devote your attention to all of the possible positives—I like to envision myself picking up my test later and seeing a great grade written on it. Negative thinking only stirs up negative performance, and if you want your performance to be great envision greatness instead. This may sound like a whole lot of hocus pocus, but when you think about it, anything that you can do to fill your mind with good things will push out the negative things that are sure to fester inside you and create those test scores you don’t want.
Look at it this way. You have to take the test, there’s no way around it. So take it with a positive attitude.
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