Practice different standardized test strategies: should you plug in an answer? Do you do better when you read the answers first or come up with your own answer before you read the options?
Note questions you skip: if you are taking the test in person, write a little start next to the questions you skip on your answer sheet, that way you can come back to them easily if you have time
Know the test rules/formats: Familiarize yourself with how much time you’ll have for each section, look up whether you will be docked points for getting a question wrong, see if you will be allowed to skip questions and come back to them
Know your strengths: Do you need to take your time and figure out each question, or do you do better if you skip the complicated ones and come back to them? What subjects make you feel confident? What strategies are most effective for you? How can you use those to boost your confidence on the parts of the test that are harder for you?
Be mindful of the time as you do practice tests: You should make your practice tests as close to the real thing as possible. Keep an eye on the clock, minimize distractions, make sure you are getting a sense of how the test will feel as well as what it will ask.
If possible, mark up the text: Underline, take notes, write out steps. This is especially helpful for math and writing sections.
Sleep: get a good night’s sleep at least two nights leading up to the test. Your brain works better when it’s rested!
Eat well: do your best to make sure you’re not too hungry or too full during the exam. It can be hard to moderate food when you’re anxious, but it will set you up for success!
Prepare: anxiety often comes regardless, but if you study and know your material and the exam, you will have more opportunities for positive self talk. Speaking of:
Counter negative self talk with positive self talk: when you realize you are saying negative things about yourself and the exam, turn that around and say positive things like “I am ready for this exam,” “my worth is not tied to my performance,” or “I am excited to show how much I have learned”
Breathe: deep breathing can calm the physical and emotional effects of anxiety. Try breathing in for four counts, holding your breath for five counts, and breathing out for six counts. Repeat this sequence a few times, and you should feel your heart rate slow and your mind and body relax
Relax muscle groups one by one: Starting with your toes, flex your muscles, then relax them. Move on to your calves, then your quads, all the way up through your shoulders and neck, tensing then relaxing.
Focus on yourself: it is easy to get distracted by what other people in the room are doing, how fast they are going or if they finish earlier or later than you, but you will be more accurate, efficient, and confident if you focus on what you are doing
If you can, move your body: often you won’t be able to get up and move around, but it can help if you are allowed. If you cannot get up from your seat, try stretching your arms, legs, hands, and/or neck from your chair. Release that tension!
Dress comfortably: the goal is to minimize distractions, so you should wear something that doesn’t press or pull uncomfortably, but you also want to wear something that makes you feel confident. Put on those lucky earrings or that t-shirt that makes you smile.
The Renton Technical College (RTC) Testing Center offers hybrid services with equity for access to professional and educational certification tests by computer-based, internet delivered, and paper/pencil in a welcoming, distraction reduced and secured environment. Due to the current COVID-19 health crisis, the Testing Center's physical office is closed to the public. We are now serving students and the community remotely until further notice.