By Donna Dunning
Also see my Exam Study Tips for ideas on how to prepare for an exam.
Show Up Ready
It is tough to perform well when you are tired, hungry, or stressed. To avoid stress, over-prepare so you know the material well. Avoid studying the night before and eat a light, nutritious meal. Give yourself enough time so that you are not rushed while eating.
When possible, check out the exam location and know what to expect. Get to the exam several minutes before it starts to avoid rushing, but not so early that you become stressed by waiting.
Know what to bring. Check what resources you are allowed to use during the exam and prepare your supplies. Make sure you have the power cord for your computer or full batteries in your calculator. Have extra paper, pens or pencils.
Have a relaxation strategy in mind. Breathing deeply or clenching and releasing your hands are a couple of ideas to reduce your stress when you feel it coming on. Remind yourself that you are prepared and trust yourself to do well.
Before starting, preview the entire exam. Look at the value of each question and section. Plan out your time and decide the most effective way to approach each of the questions.
Unless you are taking a structured computer exam, you don’t need to work sequentially. Answering the questions you know best first can build your confidence and leave you more time for the challenging items.
If you get stuck, avoid staring at a question and trying to force recall. This will heighten your stress. Instead try writing down what you know about the topic or move onto another question. These actions may help you remember. Just keep moving through the questions and adding in what you know.
Check your time and make conscious decisions about the best use of your time. Even if you can’t make a complete answer, write something down that is related. You may collect part marks this way. Unless your exam is right minus wrong, never leave a multiple-choice question unanswered.
If you complete the exam early, check your answers. Don’t second-guess yourself; rather ensure you have completed and recorded all of the items.
Your personality type preferences influence the kind of study and exam writing system that works best for you. If you would like more information on personality type and learning, check out my booklet, Introduction to Type and Learning in print or pdf format.