Managing Time During Tests

157867435There are 5 minutes left on the big test and you’re scrambling to get something down for the 20 questions that are still blank. Sound familiar? It doesn’t have to.

The biggest reason that prepared students perform poorly on tests is running out of time and leaving incomplete answers. Don’t let it happen to you! If you manage your time effectively, you’ll be more relaxed throughout the exam and you’ll be able to perform better. Try the time management model below on your next test.

The First 5 Minutes

Write down any key formulas, facts, mnemonics and other key information that you crammed immediately before the test. Jot anything you might need down, even if you think you’ll remember it.

The Second 5 Minutes

Write down your name and read the overall instructions. Skim through the entire test quickly; make a mental note about question formats, weights and topics. Spend a moment thinking briefly about how your time is best divided between sections and questions. Make quick notes on paper for difficult questions or things that you may want to remember later.

During the Test

Reread the instructions for each question and work from easiest to hardest. If you get stuck on a question for more than a few minutes, move on and come back to it later. For essay questions in particular, allocate a specific block of time to each question and don’t go beyond it.

Check your time every 30 minutes. Are you still on schedule? What’s the best use of your remaining time? Adjust accordingly and keep going.

When 30% of Test Time Remains

If you still have more than 25% of the test incomplete, shift your focus from completing everything to the best of your ability to getting key points down for every question. It’s far better to have something down for every question than to leave entire questions blank.

When 15% of Test Time Remains

Switch to a review of the test. During your review, reread the question instructions as well as your answers – don’t just look at your answers. You should also use this time to try to wrap up any incomplete questions.

Try not to leave the exam early. An extra 20 minutes of free time isn’t going to make a big difference to your life, but an extra 20 minutes of review time might.

Good luck!