Knights News · 6 Keys to Improve Test Taking Skills


The following is an excerpt from the new book: Control Your Off the Field Concerns: Proven Remedies for Coaches and Athletic Directors to Solve Your Toughest Challenges

Test taking is a skill, just like performing athletic moves. New research has determined what students need to do to maximize their test scores. They addressed issues like diet, best time to review toughest material, and general test taking skills.

1) Testing yourself repeatedly before an exam teaches the brain to retrieve and apply knowledge from memory.  This method is more effective than re-reading a textbook.

For example, if you are about to take a test on the digestive system, practice explaining how it works from start to finish rather than studying a list of parts.

2) SAT tests are a major concern for any student-athlete wanting to obtain a scholarship.  To increase scores, researchers recommend “relentless and repetitive” series of practice tests.  Taking the pre-test can feel like hard work, but it will not only boost scores, but also increase test taking confidence and test skills, such as pacing.

3) Sleep plays a role in test performance.  Review the toughest material right before going to bed the night before the test. This approach makes it easier to recall the material later.  Also, don’t wake up earlier than usual to study. This could interfere with your best sleep periods right before dawn, which aids memory.

A common study habit practiced by high school and college students – the all night cram session – is a practice linked with lower grades. It can also impair reasoning and memory for four days.

4) Eat a healthy breakfast on test day and a healthy diet overall. High fiber, slow digesting foods like oatmeal are best.  Not so well known is that what you eat for days leading up to the test also matters.  Students who were fed high fat diet in the week before a test scored lower than those who had eaten a diet consisting of lean meats, fruits and vegetables.

5) Many young adults will insist they can study while listening to music on headphones or texting, but research shows just the opposite.  Information reviewed amid distractions is less likely to be recalled later.

Students often believe that they can do it all and not really be distracted by music, sounds, or studying in a noisy public place. But while any of these may make them feel more relaxed, they won’t help them ace the mid-term.

6) When reviewing a section of a book or report to prepare for a test, students can ask themselves the following questions: • What was the overall theme? • What parts of it were the most important?  • What opinions, if any, did it contain?  • What elements make it unique?  It may be helpful to do this in writing.