Test-Taking Strategies for Better Scores

Taking tests isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Many students experience test anxiety – characterized by “butterflies” or upset stomach, sweaty palms, shaky hands or knees, or going blank – which can interfere with their performance. Fortunately, with proper study tips and test-taking strategies, you can feel better about taking and acing exams.

If you struggle with taking tests or want to improve your exam performance, here are some effective test-taking strategies to help you achieve better scores.

Our Top Test-Taking Strategies to Improve Your Exam Scores

Before the Test

  • Ask your professor questions about the exam: test types, range of topics included, and duration of the test. This gives you an idea of what and how to study for the test.
  • Prepare reviewers or practice exams similar to the test types you’ll be having.
  • Get to class early so you can settle in properly. Rushing will just add to your feelings of pressure and stress.

During the Test

  • Go through the whole test before answering anything. Take note of the point value of each item, so you can better prioritize and budget your time.
  • Read the instructions two or three times to make sure you’ve understood it correctly. Remember that each section may have different directions.
  • Answer first the questions that are easy and familiar to you. Avoid spending too much time on one item.
  • Try to answer the questions in order, without jumping from one item or section to another. If you are unsure of some items, put a mark beside these, move on, and return to them once you’ve finished the test.  
  • Unless you get deductions for wrong answers, try answering all items in the exam.
  • If anything is unclear, clarify it with the test moderator. Be sure to paraphrase your query in a way that it’s clear you’re asking about the test question and not for the answer.
  • Stay mindful of questions with negatives or double negatives, or answers with extreme words like “always,” “completely,” “never,” or “only.” Always reread these carefully to assure full understanding of what’s asked.
  • Be cautious of changing your answers, especially in multiple-choice or true/false types of questions. Most often, your first guess or instinct is the correct answer.
  • When answering essays, create a brief outline on the back of your test paper. This helps you write coherent, concise, and logical responses.
  • If you have extra time, use it to review your answers, reread your essay, and check that you’ve answered all test items.
woman writing in notebook sitting with laptop on lap

After the Test

  • Take time to celebrate little wins like getting through the test itself.
  • When you receive your results, check if there are questions that you did not get right and find out the correct answers. This is especially useful when you’re gearing up for the final exams.
  • Consult with your professor on which areas you can improve on.
  • Learn from your mistakes and better prepare for the next tests.

Taking tests can be overwhelming, especially when you know that it’ll impact your medical career. When you effectively prepare for the test and apply these test-taking strategies, you’re well on to passing your exam with flying colors.

If you need any guidance on your clinical experience and medical journey, C.H.H.A is here for you. Contact us today to learn more.

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