Counselor Resources

Guide your students through applying to college, obtaining aid, and considering a career.

Your Four-Tip Test-Prep Plan

Prepare well and you'll do well

Tests can be a trial for even the best students. There are things you can do to make test-taking easier and hopefully raise your test score in the process. Certainly, high test scores have their benefits. If you perform well on college entrance exams, you might qualify for certain forms of financial aid, including scholarships. To improve your test-taking, focus on preparation. Strong preparation can help you retain information and stay focused the day of the exam. Here are some ways to be ready to excel on tests.

  • Don't cram. Pulling an all-nighter can be one of the worst things you can do before an exam. Studies show a lack of sleep makes it hard to focus your thoughts or recall information. Spread out your study periods over days and weeks. This way, you can reinforce what you learn by going over it multiple times. Also, limit your study time to about an hour with a walk in between. Your concentration will flag after awhile, and your body will need to wake up.
  • Vary where you study. If you go to different places to study — the library, your dorm room, a quiet spot outside — your brain wakes up. According to research, the change in location turns on your perceptions, making your brain more receptive to new data.
  • Try different learning strategies. Practice tests offer a great way to learn. Test questions break up information into smaller bits so you can retain them more easily. Also getting a right or wrong answer reinforces a connection to information. Flash cards work in a similar vein. Make up flash cards ahead and have a friend drill you on the information. It may seem gimmicky, but the quick bite of information is easy to focus on and the instant feedback offers a boost to retention.
  • Add exercise to your routine. Wake up your body and you wake up your brain. Do about 20 minutes of aerobic activity after an hour of study, and you re-energize your faculties, preparing you for more study time.


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