Test Taking Strategies


  • Get enough sleep. Avoid caffeine, which increases anxiety.
  • Remember to encourage yourself and STOP critical statements.
  • Give yourself time to feel composed and to be on time for the exam. Avoid anxious classmates who are talking about the exam.


  • Look over the entire test, read the directions, plan your approach, and schedule your time.
  • Start with the easiest question first.
  • Focus your attention on the test. Don't waste time and energy worrying, thinking about the consequences of not doing well, or wondering what others are doing.
  • If you don't know an answer, mark it. Suggest to yourself that you probably studied it and the answer will come to you when you get back to it.
  • If you start to feel anxious, close your eyes, take three deep breaths and then back to the task.
  • Use anxiety as a cue to relax.

"Essay Exams. Organize your thoughts in a brief outline. Don't ramble. Remember what the professor emphasized.

"Multiple Choice Exams. Think of your own answer before looking at the choices provided. After you have answered those you know, return to those you checked. Eliminate clearly wrong answers and make an educated guess (unless there is a penalty for wrong answers). Think about one question at a time.

  • If your time is running out, concentrate on those questions you know well and/or have the most weight.
  • Use all the time allowed for reviewing your answers, completing ideas. Only change answers if you are sure of yourself.


  • Don't go over the test questions with others.
  • Reward yourself for having tried.

(Excerpts taken from