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3 Ways to Become a Better Test Taker

There is no substitute for studying, but these techniques will help make your study time worth it

1) Get Pumped!

This can be doing jumping jacks, going out for a power walk or an all-out jog. Exercise has been shown to jog both memory and brain power. Moderate to intense exercise can increase blood flow to the brain right before an important even such as a speech or an exam, allowing the brain to receive more oxygen, more frequently. According to John Ratey, a psychiatrist at Harvard, 20 minutes of exercise can make these effects last for a few hours. So, if you have a morning exam, be sure to wake up a little earlier to get your blood flowing.

2) Work your pencil down to its bones

Simply the act of taking notes boosts memory and learning. This can be done while preparing as well as while taking the exam. If it is an English exam, utilize pen and pencil to mark up the exam and indicate key points that you want to refer to when answering questions. If the questions are more analytical, indicate potential tripping points, such as the infamous “which of these is the BEST answer?” or my favorite, “which of these is not one of the solutions?” Most of the time, reading questions carefully will help you avoid almost a third of your mistakes

3) Practice practice practice

By practice, I don’t just mean studying. Presenters practice. Students study. Who do you think makes the best use of their time? By practice, I mean prepare yourself psychologically to take the exam. When you browse through practice exams, bring a timer with you and time yourself. Then, once you are finished, refer back to the areas you were weakest on and refresh your memory of the topics. Then, practice some more. Rinse and repeat. By the time you have practiced enough, you will walk into the exam with only a little bit of stress, which will put you at your peak performance level, shown in the above stress-performance curve. Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it definitely breeds excellence.

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