Salisbury University students on campus

Test-taking Tips

The word “test” often elicits feelings worry and maybe even panic. However, with proper study habits, preparation, and helpful tips, tests should no longer strike fear in your heart!

Test anxiety is usually confused with poor preparation.  Make sure you know the difference between the two.

  • Bring at least two pens/pencils with good erasers, calculator with enough batteries and any other resources that your instructor allows you to.  
  • Read the directions.  It may seem obvious but it’s important to make sure the directions are clear and understandable.  Ask the professor if you need clarification. 
  • If you have the time, briefly glance over the entire test so you can get a feel for how to balance your time. If allowed, jot down notes, key terms, and comments that come to mind.
  • Bring a watch to the test with you so that you can better pace yourself and budget your time accordingly.
  • Keep a positive attitude throughout the whole test and try to stay relaxed. If you start to feel nervous, take a few deep breaths to relax.
  • Don’t cheat and don’t appear to be cheating. Keep your eyes on your own paper.
  • Do the easiest problems first.  This will build your confidence to tackle the tougher questions/problems.  It will also help you avoid getting stuck on tough questions and losing time! Come back later to the questions you skip.  There might be something on another part of the test that will help you with specifically tough questions.
  • Read the entire question entirely and look for keywords. Always read the whole question carefully. Don't make assumptions about what the question might be.
  • With tough questions eliminate the answers you know are wrong.  With essay questions, briefly outline your main points and the order in which will make most sense to explain your topic.
  • Write legibly. If the grader can't read what you wrote they'll most likely mark it wrong.
  • Don't worry if others finish before you. It’s not always likely that they did well.  Focus on your test.
  • Don't assume that an answer is too obvious and would likely be wrong.  Most professors don't create tests to trick you.
  • When you are finished, if you have time left look over your test, make sure that you have answered all the questions. Only change an answer if you misread or misinterpreted the question because the first answer that you put is usually the correct one. Watch out for careless mistakes and proofread your essay and/or short answer questions. For math tests, make sure decimal points, fractions, integers, etc. are clear and legible.