The most important thing to remember after you realize that you haven’t performed as well as you’d hoped on a test or exam is that developing studying and test-taking skills is a process. After you’ve received your grade and assessed your strengths and weaknesses, use this knowledge to set some goals for the next test. Truthfully answering the following questions can help you set realistic and achievable objectives.
- Did I follow my study schedule? At the beginning of the term, you may have told yourself that you were going to review your notes for an hour each night. Did you stick to this schedule, or did you find yourself frequently skipping your study sessions a month into the semester? If you’ve taken a test and aren’t happy with the results, this is a good opportunity to reassess your study habits so you can try to develop better study habits before the next test.
- Did I do poorly because I was nervous or because I wasn’t adequately prepared? Many students say that they blank or panic during tests, but in reality, most just don’t study as much as they need to. Did you really study every night? Did you seek out extra help when you didn’t understand something? Did you review your notes, textbook, handouts, and assignments? If the answer to all of these questions is a completely honest yes, test anxiety may be a real problem for you, and you should ask a counselor or teacher for help. In fact, conquering this anxiety should be a major goal. If you can’t honestly answer yes to all of the above questions, however, you probably just need to study more for the next test. In most cases, this means that you should develop some study goals and a schedule that will give you more time to focus on your school work.
- What would it take for me to be happy with my performance? You know that you aren’t happy with your test score. Figuring that out is the easy part. Now you have to decide what grade would have made you happy because figuring this out will help you set a goal for your next test. To avoid disappointment, try to be realistic. If you received a 50%, for example, aim for a 60% or 70% on the next test, gradually working your way up to the 90% that you really want.