5 Helpful Test-Taking Tips for College Students

College students packing bags

The life of a college student is often stressful. Understandably, many ambitious students take big tests like exams and midterms very seriously, and for good reason. In general, how well you perform on one of these tests will reflect how well youíve studied and prepared for it over the course of the last several weeks (or months). However, there are certain steps you can take to ensure that you achieve your best on an exam once the big day arrives. To that end, here are five helpful test-taking strategies that youíll want to keep in mind moving forward:

Focus on What You Know

Have you ever sat down to take a test and found yourself flummoxed by the first question? Odds are, you have. Rather than spending ten minutes (or longer) worrying about one confusing problem, skip the questions you donít know and focus on answering the ones you do. This will help you get into a rhythm and allow you to review the toughest questions more thoroughly.

Read Prompts/Questions Carefully

Often, instructors will use very specific language when they form an essay prompt or exam question. So always take a moment to read everything on a test carefully. Sometimes, you may be able to eliminate an answer possibility based solely on the way a question is phrased. Additionally, the closer your answer matches the subject of the question, the better chances you have of receiving credit for your effort. Lastly, keep an eye out for trick questions, which some instructors may use to keep their students engaged!

Keep an Eye on the Clock

Completing a college test is all about time management. Donít get carried away answering one or two questions so fully that you neglect the rest of the exam. Normally, instructors will give you plenty of time to answer every question, but that doesnít mean you should dawdle either. The last thing you want is to turn in an exam without having answered all of the questions.

Review Your Work

When in doubt, itís typically best to go with your gut feeling if you have to make a guess on an exam. On the other hand, itís also a good idea to review your work before you turn it in. Mistakes do happen, and if you can catch a few before you finalize your work, youíll be much better off as a result.


College tests cover a wide variety of topics ranging from the use of sophisticated lab equipment like 5 ml cryovials to ancient philosophical theories. At the end of the day, though, the key to succeeding on test day comes down to relaxing. Staying calm under pressure may not be easy, but itís the best way to guarantee a positive outcome.