Test day should be the easy day. By the end of this article, you’re going to know how to calm your nerves while producing results that make everyone think you’re a genius.
Any test taking anxiety you’re feeling is preventing that from happening.
Anxiety, nervousness, and the jitters isn’t productive in an academic environment. In fact, it’s counter-productive. It takes the information that you have stored in your memory and makes it inaccessible.
Have you never noticed something like that?
You’re sitting in the test thinking, “I know I know the answer but I just can’t remember it!” And you rack your brain looking for the answer getting absolutely nowhere.
Then 5 minutes after the test, it clicks. You remember the answer.
That’s a phenomenon based on basic biology.
The Strange Biology Of Memory – And Why You Can’t Remember It When You Need It Most
The human brain has an extraordinary capacity for memorization.
Here at Smart Student Secrets, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this extraordinary capacity on a regular basis. I’ve heard stories about students memorizing insane amounts of information after hearing the information a single time. And that’s not even unusual when you’re properly prepared for it.
You don’t need to study something 10,000 times to get it to stick in your brain.
If you’re properly primed up then you can memorize it after hearing it a single time.
When your teacher says it during the lecture, it could literally be locked in for the rest of your life. That is, without studying or struggling over the idea. It’s just there waiting for you when you need it. (Personally, I recommend closer to a dozen repetitions for most people because that extraordinary level of focus isn’t easy to get.)
But everyone can memorize after a single repetition.
One of the biggest hurdles to utilizing this extraordinary memory is stress…
The human brain is designed to shut down certain functions during high-stress, high-anxiety, and high-energy situations.
In nature, this function makes a whole lot of sense. If you’re running from an angry bear – you’re going to need your blood rushing to your legs, not your brain for you to think about the thing you ate two weeks ago that was actually pretty tasty BUT NO! You need to run from the bear!
This natural function isn’t as productive in an academic environment.
When you’re anxiety is ramping up, your brain is shutting down. Until you can eliminate that anxiety, you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle to remember stuff.
And that’s why you need to do two main things…
The Test Is Over Before It Even Started
When you walk into a test, the results have already been decided.
You either know the information that you’ll need to know or you don’t know.
From that point forward, it’s not about remembering obscure things you were told two weeks ago to try and piece together the perfect answer.
It’s just about filling out the form…
The test is only a form to be filled out. It’s like a personal survey. Don’t think in terms of right or wrong answers because you have no way of knowing that. Instead, think about the test in terms of:
Answers you know
Answers you think you know
Answers you don’t know
Right or wrong is irrelevant and not your judgement anyway.
If you don’t already know the answer (or how to solve it) then you should assume you’re not going to be able to figure it out during test time. If you can’t dig into your textbook or search the internet or ask your teacher for help then trying to solve something without the proper info is just a guess. And if you’re just taking a guess, there is no reason to stress about it.
Thinking in these terms doesn’t allow you to stress out. As soon as you start worrying you just remind yourself, screw ups in the test have nothing to do with the test – it was the studying beforehand.
You’re not bad at test taking. Test screw ups are study screw ups. (And study screw ups are super common… so don’t feel bad about it.)
And that brings me to another important point:
How To Waltz Into The Test Ready To Make The Test Cry “Uncle!”
The key to test taking has little to do with how you take the test. If you can reduce the test taking anxiety then you’re 95% of the way to an optimal test score.
The biggest part of taking a test with insurmountable confidence is preparation. But probably not the preparation you think…
If you’ve prepared for the test properly then your scores are going to be off the charts. And after 4 or 5 tests where you absolutely crush the tests, you’ll never get nervous in an exam ever again. This goes for every level of schooling for the rest of your life.
Gain these skills freshman year in high school and you’ll be walking into senior year of college exams ready to crush them.
This is the most effective way to eliminate test-anxiety but very few students get the pleasure of learning this.
A student instead studies for 7 hours the night before the test trying to cram every bit of information into their skull. Then the next day they go into the test nervous –
Everything they learned the night before is completely inaccessible…
And they embarrass themselves.
And they end the test saying, “It’s obviously not the test prep that’s the problem. I spent 7 hours on it! I’m just a ‘bad test-taker’…”
Here is the thing…
Studying for hours is the problem. It’s not the solution. They’ve been doing research on this topic for decades. The longer you study, the less you’re going to be remembering.
The topic of preparing for a test properly is a deep one. Here are some important things you should understand:
If you go into the test properly prepared then test taking anxiety will cost you points but it won’t cost you major points. If you’ve used active recall (see the articles above!) then you’d have to literally be running for your life to not be able to access those memories. The information isn’t just a stored memory – it’s second nature, a reflexive response.
These test prep strategies turn memory into something as simple as:
Stimuli – Response
You see the words “1961, Lincoln” and your brain goes to “Civil War, Sumter, April 12…”
Not because you’re actively trying to remember. It’s just like you’re swatting away a fly. You just do it because it’s natural to you.
That’s the kind of test prep we focus on here at Smart Student Secrets.
As Easy As Filling Out A Form
Once you’re prepared properly and can eliminate the unproductive test anxiety, test day becomes one of the easiest days in your schedule.
You don’t have to pay attention to a lecture. You don’t have to struggle through assignments. You don’t have to read boring stuff.
All you need to do is fill out the form the teacher put in front of you.
You don’t need to squeeze your face shut and bang your head on your desk trying to remember stuff. It’s just going to feel like second nature.
Once in a while you’ll still get a surprise here and there that you’ll lose a point or two from but if you’re just thinking in terms of filling out a form – it doesn’t even matter anyway.
You’ll fill out the form in half the time of your average student and have plenty of time to take a nap or something. When you get the test back, you’ll have scored way higher than anyone watching you take that test would think you deserve.
And then you might just write for Smart Student Secrets… 😉
It’s not HOW MUCH you study.
It’s HOW you study.
The human brain has billions of neurons perfectly structured to store and transmit data about the world around you.
Any idiot can bang around with a textbook for dozens of hours to score high…
Let me show you the better way.
Olivia wants to tell you her story of taking her grades to the top.
She skyrocketed her grades while staying stress-free.
You can read her story here