Beating the Clock

It is easy to feel the pressure of the clock. If you’re not careful and prepared it will get to you and drag down your score. Most Standardized tests have time limits, including Nursing Entrance test, College Entrance Exams and Certification Exams. Here are five simple steps to help you maximize your score while minimizing your stress.

  1. Set your pace: Before you start filling in the multiple-choice answers, look at how many questions you have. Calculate how much time you have for each question, and scan through the questions so you have a general idea of what you’re up against.
  2. Make it easy: As you start going through the questions, don’t let yourself get hung up. Instead, according to the College Board, successful test-takers complete the less-difficult questions first. Focus on answers that come quickly; then, depending on how much time is left, go back through and tackle the ones that caused you to stumble. Sometimes, if you come back to a question after you’ve completed others, it can give you a fresh perspective.
  3. Know the score: No matter how much you studied, there may still be a few answers you simply won’t have. This is when you need to know whether the test deducts points for incorrect answers, or if a wrong answer won’t have an effect on the overall score. For example, a timed test like Computer Based Exams, won’t allow you to skip questions — but it also won’t count a wrong answer against you. If a wrong answer won’t bring down your overall score, make an educated guess rather than leaving the answer blank.
  4. Weigh the consequences: If a certain part of the test is worth a larger percentage of the overall test score, then focus more of your time on that section. For example, if a certain section of a three-part test is 50 percent of the entire score, try to spend half of your time on that section before moving on to the others. When completing a test with essay questions, start with the larger essays first — that way you’ll have them taken care of before you burn out or run out of time.
  5. Review time: If you’ve gone through all the questions and still have time, go back through to double-check your answers. Don’t second-guess an answer unless you think you misread the question. But otherwise, keep an eye out for careless errors — and double check you wrote the answers in the right place.
  6. But above all else, keep calm. It’s easy to focus on the clock when you’re taking a timed test, but it’s the questions you need to be focused on. And while having a stopwatch or some kind of countdown clock may be helpful to some, for others it may be just one more distraction. Just stay focused, stay calm and remember what you’ve been studying.  See our Post on Breathing Exercises for Test Anxiety.

A great score, or at least a better one, is sure to follow.  See our post on Working with Time Limits and Setting Priorities on a Timed Test.



About the Author

Brian has a BA in Economics, and an MA in Psychology. He lives in British Columbia, Canada. He has traveled widely and has written extensively on education, testing and tests.

Comments (4)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I thought you would want to know that this site does not display right on my mobile (iphone).

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi. I am visiting your site again to see more of your updated posts.

    • Brian says:

      Thanks! We are updating the whole blog – we did the template a month or so ago, and now we are going through and updating and upgrading all of the posts.

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