Can one get better at taking tests? For some it’s easy. For others, test-taking is downright frightening. Because no matter how long you devote to preparing for a test, it’s likely to be a disaster. Whether a biochem test, a history final or the almighty MCAT…there are surefire ways to get better at taking tests!
Are test-taking skills inborn, or a learned behavior?
Getting better at taking tests is something all college students want, and every pre-med needs. For those who freak at every midterm or final, and all too often fail, there are ways to avoid it. You may be giving twice the time to study and prep as your classmates, yet making all-too-common mistakes that can lead to failure.
What are the biggest mistakes in taking tests?
It’s the way you study. Reading nonstop for hours, or scheduling 4-hour uninterrupted blocks of study may not cut it. Our brains are programmed to learn better when we do something while reading and studying that helps the learning stick. Simply reading is not learning.
Active learning is key to taking tests and winning
What is active learning? Here are a few suggestions that work when taking tests:
—Take notes covering the key concepts you’re reading about, and then keep those notes handy so you can re-read them one or more times.
—Study with a partner or group, quizzing each other to reinforce the most important areas of study.
—Use flash cards or molecular model kits, or digital question sets to shake up your test prep.
—Get better at taking tests by acting as a tutor to your fellow classmates to teach them difficult concepts.
—Take practice tests and use study guides by turning facts into questions.
—Study immediately after a difficult class by reviewing your notes and going over what you learned.
—Make a game plan. Set aside the needed time, specify active learning tips.
—Practice and review problem areas, not once but several times, until you’ve sunk the content deep into your cerebrum!
—Last but not least, add a little caffeine to your routine when needed. If you’re tired, and your mind is wandering or drifting off topic, there won’t be any benefit from your study.
College is hard enough without stressing about every exam. Take some time now to learn these tips and skills for getting better at taking tests…practice them, and you can up your test-taking game.
Here are a few other tips to help undergrad pre-meds: