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1 Week to a Better Test Grade

Student with nose in book studying to get a better test grade.
We’re always striving to improve our test scores, but what do we do when we’ve already hit the books the hardest we can? To some degree, test scores don’t just measure understanding, they also capture our sleep habits, breakfast, and time management skills. Chances are, there are a few quick fixes to your test prep rituals that’ll bring your grades up.

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Truth be told, almost every one of us doesn’t perform as well on tests as we’d like. Yes, even the student who preformed “perfectly” on their last reading exam, has somehow convinced themselves they could’ve gotten a better test grade. Of course, the surest path to better test grades is by studying. Further, meeting with your teacher and discussing tricky test content is extremely important. However, this post is geared towards those who want to improve test scores, assuming they’ve studied hard and consistently leading up to exams.

The week of the exam . . .

At this point, the bulk of your studying should be done. Ideally, you’ll spend this final week leading up to your exam mostly reviewing material you’re confident in. However, it’s possible, and normal if there’s a section or two of exam material you’ll be studying for the first time. This may be your last chance to sort out any problems you’re having with the test material, so you’ll want to take a peek at the stuff you’ll be studying, and the stuff you’ve already studied.

Take some time to anticipate questions you know will appear on the exam and take notice of which questions you’re most fearful of. With the test only a few days away, now is one of your last opportunities to email your teacher questions or schedule extra help. Aside from your teacher, you can reach out to Tip-Top Brain and schedule one-on-one tutoring sessions with instructors in any subject. The instructors at Tip-Top Brain will be sure to uncross any wires and give you the tools you need to boost your exam scores. 

The night before . . .

Woo-hoo! Your exam is tomorrow, and despite feeling nervous, you’re ready. At this stage in the game, it’s important to prepare yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically for the exam. Before a big test day, I like to prepare my outfit, food, and backpack for the following day. Not only does this mitigate the risk of last-minute stressors or timely distractions, but it gives you a sense of preparedness and confidence that’ll propel you through the test. More importantly, sleep.

Being well-rested the morning of the exam is arguably as important as studying. You could know the test material from front to back, but a bad night’s sleep can make that knowledge inaccessible. The better sleep you get, the better test grades you receive. That said, don’t throw your sleep schedule out of whack.  As long as you get to bed at a reasonable time and get at least eight hours, you’re set. 

During the exam . . .

Before you do anything, aside from perhaps writing your name, read the directions on the exam. For one thing, your mind is the sharpest it’ll be for the entire exam, and after a little brain fatigue kicks in, even simple instructions may start to look like gibberish. Once you’ve read the directions, and raised any questions with your teacher, scan the test to see what lies ahead. Is there a matching section? How about a true/false? Knowing what kinds of questions lie ahead will help you pace yourself.

Anecdotally, I like to answer the fastest questions that I’m most sure of first because it brings me comfort knowing I’ve already completed part of the test. Moreover, if you begin to run out of time, you’ve already scored some guaranteed points. If you don’t know the answer, keep it moving. Of course, if tasked with the decision between guessing or not answering, having anything written will result in a better test grade than nothing.

These tips are only of use once you’ve already found your groove studying. If you haven’t quite spent enough time preparing for the test, all of this proposed studying routine will help, but it isn’t a panacea. In order to see the “better test grade” you’d like, you’ll need a combination of rigorous studying, and deliberate self-care. So, how exactly can we study most effectively? Are flashcards the way to go? Or merely memorization? Taking the time to audit your test preparation isn’t covered here, but it’s a worthwhile venture in improving your score.

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