Tips for Smooth Test-Taking Preparations

Posted on June 07 2017

Whether you’re taking online courses for high school or college or doing so in person, taking tests is the toughest part for many people. Many get anxious and nervous, and spend weeks dreading these big days.

There’s no need to be overly nervous – here are a few tips to help you with preparing.

Make a Plan

At least a week before the test, begin planning for what it’s going to cover. Ask your teacher any relevant questions, and go over course work and notes. Find out what’s acceptable during the test – can you use a calculator, or a formula sheet? Make a list of the most important study topics, and plan extra time to study challenging topics.

Night Before

Know that cramming for a test the night before does not work. If you’ve planned and follower a proper study guide, the night before you take your test should be reserved for a quick review and an early bedtime – a good night of sleep is more important than any last-second cramming you could do.

Morning Of

For starters, make sure to eat a hearty breakfast the morning of the test – the brain operates more clearly with a full stomach providing nutrients. Get to school early, and do a ten-minute power study just as a refresher right before the test.

Test Time

Before the test starts, just confirm that you have everything you might need – pencils, calculators, scratch paper, etc. Know how the test is scored, and read the instructions carefully so you’re not making any clerical mistakes.

Time Management

Scan the test quickly before you get started, just to get a good idea of the length and time you’ll need to take. Some people choose to skip through and answer easy questions first – this can build confidence, and saves time for you to focus on the tougher stuff. This is mostly personal preference, though.

If you get stuck on a tricky question, don’t get worried or frustrated. Reread the question to make sure you understand it. If you still have issues, circle the question and move on, planning to come back to it later. If you’ve reached a final point where you have to move on, review your options and make your best guess – as long as you don’t lose points for wrong answers.


Make sure you keep things neat, especially if it’s not a multiple-choice test. If your written 4s look like 9s every time, this could cause an issue. Make sure you erase mistakes. For machine-filled tests, fill in spaces properly.

For more tips on test-taking, or to find out about online high school courses or credits, speak to the educators at The American Academy.