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College Exam Tips

By A.W. Berry,
Staff Writer

Once you're in college, you want to make sure you are prepared to take exams.

Since college exams often occur during the same midterm and end-of-semester time periods, some level of mental strain is going to be inevitable during these times. Fortunately, there are several ways to improve test-taking ability and performance using methods that minimize this strain. Such means facilitate positive testing results in the form of higher test scores or maintenance of an already high level of testing success. Knowing what these methods are also allows students to proficiently account for varying types of tests and test-taking scenarios. In turn, this builds the educational ability necessary to accomplish improved test results in multiple subjects.


Active preparation for a college exam is just as important as the exam itself. This can be accomplished by knowing how the exam is taken, how to study, and what to learn before the exam. Staying well rested is also necessary to maintain proper brain function that is essential for test-taking success. Moreover, according to the University of California San Diego Health System, mathematical performance and other brain functions decline with sleep deprivation due to a corresponding disruption of electrical and chemical activity in the brain.


Test-taking strategy is part of a broader educational strategy. For some students, taking morning classes may benefit students that have better attention during those hours. Similarly, taking exams at the same time may also be effective. The University of Maryland Student Handbook offers several test-taking strategy tips that include reading the instructions, working on areas of strength first and preparing outlines in the test margins to organize answers.


The act of learning is a key to successfully taking college exams. Since students learn in different ways, knowing how you learn is essential to optimal retention of information. For example, visual learners are better off incorporating concept maps and other visual learning aids into their studying for more effective learning, according to the Penn State University Nittany Success Center. Moreover, failure to identify the right learning style and utilization of the wrong learning techniques can slow individual information processing and weaken the outcome of valuable time spent studying.


Optimal test taking is facilitated by preparation, strategy and learning, but test-taking techniques add another layer of potential success when taking college exams. To illustrate, Psych Central states psychological techniques that enhance memory, such as "chunking," and use of mnemonic acronyms help retain larger amounts of information that might be needed on a test. University centers such as the State University of California Psychological Counseling Services also recommend reviewing test answers at the end of the test to correct any errors made during the test.

Last edited: October 31, 2011, 6:46 pm EST
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