Blake O'Hare .com

Test Taking Tips

Tags: School, Silly
Test anxiety gets the best of us. So as a public service, I have compiled a list of test-taking tips that have worked for me. Enjoy.

Take a Deep Breath

Being relaxed is the most important thing when taking a test. Almost more so than knowing the material. You will make much more rational decisions when your mind is clear, whereas someone who studied really hard and is starting to lose their mind will make silly errors. If you have studied wisely, then I strongly recommend that you do not cram during the day of the test. Merely look over your notes.


Along the same lines, sleep is also very important. After a certain time, sleep will do you more good than studying.


Cramming, as a rule of thumb, is not an effective way to study.

"But I NEED to cram"

If you need to cram, don't cram too hard. It's better to learn a few things and retain them during the test, then try to retain everything and end up not remembering anything by the time the scantron sheet reaches your hands.

Law of Minimum Variation

Typically, if you have 4 choices for a multiple choice question, there will be one answer that is way out. That answer is wrong. The three remaining answers will be somewhat similar. However, contextually, one of them will be a "median" of the other two. That is the correct answer typically.

Common Sense

Especially on tests that involve tangible numerical amounts (like physics and chemistry) make sure your answer makes sense. It's easy to plug in a bunch of numbers in equations and drop a negative or accidentally multiplying when you should have divided and causing something to be milli- when it should have been kilo-. Stop. Look at the question. Look at your answer. Does it contextually make sense?

Scrawl Duality

If you're not sure how to spell something (and it's a situation where the error could change the meaning) simply make up letters that are hybrids of the two possible spellings. Molarity? Molality? Make the 4th-to-last letter an l/r hybrid.

The answer is B

The answer is B. Or C. Studies have shown that if you have no clue whatsoever, then choose one of those since they're the most common.

Draw Stick Figures

Pictures are worth a thousand words. I have nothing else to say about this.

Let-me-think-about-it Placeholder

Don't know the answer? Scrawl. Bad. Make sure you can't even guess what the letters are or even where the words begin or end. But also make sure that you can "see" a wide variety of words in it if you try to look. You'll lose the points, but you'll get them back a week later when you complain that you "had the correct answer".

The Funny Bomb

Make your answer funny. So funny, that they forget it's wrong.

"Yeah, that's right"

If it's a really big class, then just put down anything that's a correct statement that's mildly related to the question. Dance around the answer, but say something correct. When the professors/TA's are grading the tests their brains will be mush by the time they get to the 200th test, that they'll start accepting anything that sound right even after they forget what the question was.

Ride the Curve to Glory

If the class is curved, that means you just have to do better than everyone else to get a good grade. Find a very addicting flash game the night before the test. Then go to Facebook and find the AIM screennames of all your classmates. Send them the link.

And remember to always...

Wrap your head in tin foil. That way they can't cheat off you.