How to Prepare for College Tests in 4 Easy Steps

I thought I had tests on lock when I started university. However, my experiences at university made me reconsider this.In high school, tests are either huge events or absolutely inconsequential.

In my senior year of high school I probably had fifteen tests (outside of the two AP tests) in about ten months. In my first quarter at UC Davis, I had nine tests in ten weeks.

In addition, tests are far more important in university classes. In high school, it was okay if I bombed a test because I had loads of other assignments and essays that cushioned my grade. In university, my grades were determined entirely by three tests. Last quarter I bombed the first test in one class and I had to go the rest of the quarter knowing I couldn’t earn an A. There is less room for error.

While the ability to test well is necessary for success in public school, it becomes more necessary to success in higher education. You can increase your chances for success by reducing pre-test stress. Here are a few things I do personally that you might want to try.

1. Check the syllabus

You should do this on the first day of class, because this will provide the most basic information in regards to tests. The syllabus will list the dates for the tests as well as the date and time for the final, which is often held at a different time than the class usually meets. I always put this information into my iPhone’s calendar so I can easily see when my next tests are coming up.

Also, the syllabus will tell you what type of test you’ll be taking, and this is important too. Will it be an essay test or a multiple choice test? In addition, the syllabus will list off the supplies you’ll need for the test, which brings me to my next point.

2. Buy supplies in advance

The days of being given Scantron sheets by your teacher are over. You’ll have to buy them at your campus bookstore now. It’s best to do this as soon as possible so you don’t chance the many problems that could happen in the process of buying these things. Also, you should know how many sheets you need to buy anyway since you read your syllabus.

A brief aside: Your school may have variations on the Scantron. For instance, UC Davis’ bookstore sells a blue Scantron and several green Scantrons; my community college also sold brown Scantrons as well. While your professor may not care which Scantron you use, but you should check the syllabus carefully to see which one they want in the event that your professor cares.

3. Study appropriately

Now that you know when your tests are, you should budget your time appropriately. If you go to your classes regularly (which you should), you should have a good idea how difficult the test will be. This means that you can decide which class is more important to study for.

For example, during the last quarter I had two classes that couldn’t have been further apart from each other in difficulty. The first test for one class was a 50 multiple choice question test based off of 13 pages of fill-in-the-blank lecture notes and a six page article. The first test for the other class was a 40 multiple choice question and two short answer test based off of nine pages of typed notes, six chapters from a textbook and a few journal articles. I spent a week studying for the latter while I spent about a day studying for the former. This was about the appropriate length of time to study.

4. Arrive early

Nobody skips on Test Day. I’ve shown up five minutes early to a class on test day and have been unable to find a seat. Since I prefer certain seats in a classroom, I always try to show up as early as I can. In addition, if you finish tests really quickly, you should show up early so that you can grab the seat at the end of the aisle or in the front row so that you don’t have to squeeze past people trying to concentrate.

Ultimately, the best way of preparing for a test is to study for it, because that’s the best way to do well on it. However, if you take care of these things, you can spend more of your time studying for the test as opposed to worrying about it.

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John Kesler

John Kesler

John Kesler is a senior studying communication at the University of California, Davis. If he is on campus, he can be found in the basement offices of the newspaper or the radio station. At home, he enjoys listening to whatever music he can, reading whatever books he can, and taking walks wherever he can.
John Kesler

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