The Best Test-Taking Strategies and the Science Behind Them

The Best Test-Taking Strategies and the Science Behind Them

Did you know that on average, students spend 10 days taking district-mandated exams and 9 days taking state-mandated exams? That’s a scary statistic right? What’s even worse is this statistic doesn’t take into account Advanced Placement exams or exams given by individual teachers. With this never-ending amount of testing, every student should know these helpful test taking strategies to make test day better overall.

Be rested

Getting a good night’s sleep is the key to doing well on any test. If you are well-rested and alert, you will be able to work more efficiently and be at the top of your game. In a Ghent/ KU Leuven University study, it was concluded that students who slept 7 hours each night during exam time scored nearly 10% higher than their counterparts who slept less. Overall, sleep boosts the brain’s thinking ability and capacity so be sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep the night before a test. These tips have all had to do with leading up to the test, but what are some tips for when it’s time to actually begin testing?

Go with your gut

If you come across a question and you’re not 100% sure of your answer, choose the answer that you originally thought was correct. Humans notice patterns in their past experiences, store this information in long-term memory, retrieve it and when similar patterns are detected, we rely on our instincts to help us make a choice. Always trust your gut instincts on a test.

Eat peppermint

Eating peppermint candy or chewing peppermint gum is one of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to improving test-taking ability. Many say that peppermint helps you to focus and interestingly enough, the University of Cincinnati conducted a study and ended up showing that peppermint boosted the alertness and concentration of test-takers.

This phenomenon is because peppermint contains menthol which stimulates the hippocampus (the part of the brain that controls mental clarity and memory), thus the fragrance causes you to wake up and pay more attention.

Eliminate answers

The science behind this tip is pretty straightforward. If you blindly guess an answer you have either a 20% or 25% chance of guessing correctly depending on the number of answer choices. If you start with 4 or 5 possible answers and eliminate 2 or 3 of them using the process of elimination, common sense, or background knowledge, you’ve successfully increased your chances of getting the question right from 20-25% to a more encouraging percentage. Making an informed guess will likely allow you to get more questions correct and feel better about your test experience.

Get a tutor

Test taking strategies and the internet are great resources, but if you’re looking for something a bit more personalized, a tutor might be the right option for you. If you are struggling in a class course or simply want to improve your chances of scoring higher on an exam, Miles Smart Tutoring offers an affordable and flexible one-on-one tutoring opportunity that is unique to each student’s needs. These are only 6 test-taking tips out of the 100’s that exist. Hopefully, throughout this blog, you learned a few helpful tips and the fascinating, scientific reasons why they work. Good luck!