Top Test Taking Tips

Whether you’re about to sit a Scholarship exam, preparing for an upcoming Selective Schools entrance test, starting to worry about VCE exams or simply wanting to improve your quiz marks in class, check out our top 5 tips for test taking!


1. Be prepared

This is an easy one, but it is an important one too. Before you sit a test, you need to ensure that you have all the pens, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, rulers, protractors, calculators and reference sheets that you will need. It is also a good idea to make sure you have had a good meal, are well hydrated and have had a good night’s sleep.


2. Be strategic with your time

Before you start your test, it is important to do some simple maths. How many questions are on the test? How many minutes do you have to complete them? Are some questions worth more than others? It is always a good idea to figure out exactly how much time you can commit to each question. For example, if I had an hour to complete 30 questions, I would know that I can afford to spend 2 minutes on each question. Once you know this, you can priorities your time easily. If a question looked like it might take me more that 2 minutes,  skip it, complete the quicker questions and come back to it later.


3. Take educated guess

If you are unsure about a particular question, it is usually a good idea to skip it, focus on another question, and make sure that you come back to it before your time is up. However, if you are nearing the end of your exam and you still can’t work out the question, it’s time to take a guess. When you have to guess an answer, the trick is to be as clever about it as possible. If you are sitting a multiple-choice test, try to increase your chances of guessing correctly by crossing out any clearly incorrect answers. Then, look at the remaining solutions and ask yourself “do any of these answers seem more likely than the others?”, “does this number seem too big, too small or just right?” or “is there a way I can substitute in this answer to confirm that it is correct?”. While there is nothing wrong with guessing on a question you are unsure of, try not to leave it entirely to chance.


4. Highlight important information

Careless reading is one of the biggest causes of incorrect answers in most exams. Students who skim over worded questions and misinterpret what the question is asking of them are likely to make silly mistakes. When your are reading through a worded question, it is a good idea to highlight important information. This includes any names, important figures, as well as the actual question. Keep an eye out for words such as not and don’t. Students often misread questions such as “which of the following is not one of the author’s arguments” with “which of the following is one of the author’s argument.


5. Relax

A lot of students struggle under test conditions due to nerves. When you’re not relaxed, it’s hard to focus and you can panic and make silly mistakes. Though it’s not always easy to relax when taking a test, there are some things that can help you manage your nerves, such as arriving early to make sure you aren’t rushed, taking deep breaths to calm yourself down, and making sure you sit comfortably and with good posture.