It is normal to feel stress during a test. Stress can serve as motivation to do well. However, if you have too much stress, it can cause test anxiety. This can hamper your ability to recall information and solve test problems, which will affect your ability to do well on a test. Practice stress relief techniques to help control your stress. (See the Stress Relief Techniques article http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art23456.asp for ideas to control your stress.)
Use Positive Self-Talk
Throughout the test, it is important to tell yourself that you can do well. It is easy to get discouraged and have doubts. When those doubts take over your mind, they can cause negative thinking. Negative thoughts can inhibit your ability to focus on the test, solve test problems, recall information, and trust your memory.
Read the directions
It is worth taking the time to thoroughly read the directions for the test and test section, even when the directions seem obvious. Test directions are not always as obvious as they seem.
Read Each Question Carefully
Before answering a question, read it carefully. Be sure you understand what the question is really asking. Watch for absolute and negative terms because they give the question a very specific meaning. Words such as "never," "always," "all," "every," and "not" are very important to pay attention to in order to understand what the question is asking. On paper tests, you can also circle these terms with your pencil to help them stand out.
Answer Easiest Questions First
Answer the easiest questions first to be certain that you do not run out of time before having an opportunity to answer them. Once you have answered the easier questions, you can go back to the questions that require more time to answer.
Answer All Questions
Attempt to answer all of the questions as long as there is no penalty for incorrect answers; guessing can lead to correct answers.
Use the Test
When you recall information, search for clues in other sections of the test to jog your memory enough to be able to correctly answer questions.
Write Answers Neatly
Write answers to test questions using good handwriting. If your professors cannot read your handwriting, they may be forced to mark the answer as incorrect because they cannot tell if your answers are correct.
Implementing the test-taking strategies above during a test can help you improve your test grade. However, they will be most effective when you use good test preparation techniques before the test.