Something I've learned throughout studying and test taking is the difference between test anxiety and test confidence. If I haven't had the time to really prepare for the test, it usually shows when I have to go back and forth between two answers trying to decide which answer I remember hearing in class. This builds so much more added stress to a test and usually that stress carries onto answering the following questions. This anxiety makes me less focused on the questions and significantly impacts my score. In contrast, when I prepare how I want for a test, I answer the test questions with ease and with more confidence. In this way, I feel like test anxiety and test confidence are opposites, and by increasing one, you decrease the other. In this blog, I wanted to talk about how I lower my test anxiety and build up test confidence in my study and test taking strategies.
STUDYING WHAT YOU ALREADY KNOW ALONG WITH WHAT YOU DON'T:
It is so easy when you are studying (especially if it is the night before a test, and you are overwhelmed) to leave out studying what you feel like you already know. It speeds up your studying, etc. However, the little bit of extra time you spend rewriting what you already know or going over it a little more can change the course of your test. It makes answering those questions so much quicker (because you don't have to second guess your answer) and gives you a surge of confidence that can be then carried into other questions. The extra work you put in almost always pays off in the end. When I study for math and seem to get the hang of a problem that I feel almost confident with, I challenge myself to do two extra problems to bring up my test confidence and make myself feel even more comfortable with that type of problem.
WRITING ON THE TEST:
This is a tip that has really helped me. My teachers almost always give me a test packet and a Scantron and allow us to write on the test. Something I like to do is circle my answer on both the Scantron AND the TEST. When circling it on my test as well, it makes me feel more confident in my answer and kind of locks my answer in for me. It allows me to move onto the next question while not worrying about the previous one. In a similar way, I like to put a star next to the questions I'm not sure if I answered it correctly. However, I don't always do this because I want to go back to that question in the end. I do this because it allows me to continue onto the next question without carrying on the anxiety of the question before. Sometimes I do go back and look over my starred questions, but I usually don't (When I do I usually overthink it and change my answer to a wrong answer).
GO THROUGH EACH ANSWER CHOICE:
This tip is especially helpful for AP style questions. I like to go through each answer choice on a test and cross out the ones I know are wrong. If I'm still iffy about an answer after this I like to write a little note to myself defending my answer or explaining why another option isn't right. This allows me to feel like I applied all the knowledge I could to a particular question and move on with ease.