How to approach the night before an important test
When I think about how different people approach the night before a big test, I imagine a commercial with multiple big red buttons (like the Staples "EASY" button) on a desk in front of a perspiring student.
Several will hit "PANIC;" other, less anxious souls will hit "GET HELP;" some well-known bookworms might slam "PARTY;" and there's always that one tender-loving student who will hit, "CRY."
Is it just me or do you also get tired of the seemingly endless number of fellow students who gripe and moan in increasing amounts about their "huge test" coming up because after griping and moaning the previous day they didn't do anything about it that night?
I mean, God forbid these people actually be forced to work hard.
The way I've always approached the night before important tests is that studying on that night shouldn't be so crucial. Going to class, actually staying awake and alert in class, taking notes and doing homework correctly are, in my opinion, infinitely more valuable than cramming 10 hours before the academic shindig commences.
Scoring well on tests has as much to do with skilled test-taking as it does solid preparation. Test taking is an art, or at least an acquired skill that by college we should be pretty good at. Thus, the night before a test should be as much about setting yourself up to test well as it should be about studying the material for the test. Relax
. Browse over the material just enough to keep it fresh in your mind. Don't fry your brain with endless memorization. Get good sleep (eight hours or more if possible). Eat something healthy before going to class the next morning; even if you aren't a breakfast-eater, put something light in your stomach.
Sounds oversimplified, but this basic method has always done the trick for me. Don't take it out of context, however – to take this more relaxed approach you need to have attended class regularly and done what was required of you to grasp the material.
Many consider the SAT or the ACT to be the biggest test of a high school student's career. The night before I took the ACT I watched college football and then played poker at a friend's house; I won enough money to cover my water and banana on the way to the testing site the next morning. I took the test, went home and enjoyed the rest of my weekend, and later found out that I eclipsed the goal I had set for myself.
I've continued this method through my college years and can declare that it hasn't let me down yet. How do you prepare for big tests?
What's the more important skill: test prep or test taking?