We have all heard classmates and well-meaning friends offer advice about how to take a test. For example, some people might say, “Choose answer ‘C’ when in doubt,” or, “Never pick the same letter answer twice in a row.” Still others will explain that there are “secrets” to the test that only those in the know will be able to exploit, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, for anyone else to make a passing grade. It is enough to make you feel like you have no hope of succeeding in the task you have set for yourself.
The fact is, none of these myths are true. The only real secret to passing a standardized test is to study and practice. Unfortunately, this truth does not make the comments of friends and classmates any easier to ignore, and too often their ideas contribute to test anxiety. So what are some good ways to keep these well-meaning friends from causing the test anxiety that is likely to interfere with your ability to pass the test?
Do Not Take All Advice Seriously
Everyone likes to give advice, but only a few people are truly qualified to do so. Try not to take everyone seriously. Friends who have taken the test before will have had a completely different experience than you will have. Their advice, then, should be taken with a grain of salt. Your experience with the test will be unique. Relying too much on the experience of others could lead you to worry if you feel differently about the test than they did. This kind of worry is likely to trigger unwanted test anxiety.
Your Instructor as a Resource
If you have specific concerns about the content of the test or your ability to do well on the exam, discuss these concerns with your instructor. He or she will be able to help you focus on the topics that are most likely to be covered on the exam and can provide study tips and advice. You might even mention your difficulties with test anxiety. Teachers want their students to do well, so your instructor just might be your best ally in your battle with test anxiety.