If you’ve ever wondered if there was a trick to preparing for online exams, we here at Excel High School have got the answer for you: Yes! In fact, we’ve gathered some important tips that will help you prepare for your online exams.
During the Class
Read the text.
While you’re working through your course, be sure to carefully read the text. Watching the videos in your courses is a great support for the written text, but reading through the text will more adequately prepare you for your exams. Interacting the text will also alert you to any areas that you might not fully understand.
When you get to a section, topic, or skill that you don’t fully understand or aren’t mastering, then ask for help. Don’t move on until you get the help you need. You have a couple of options when you’re feeling stuck, and neither of them is to ignore your confusion!
Your first option is to reach out to your instructor for clarification so that you can understand what you’ve read. Our instructors want to help you succeed, so take advantage of that fact. However, if you feel like you need more than just a bit of clarification, another option is to schedule with Train the Brain for some more intense one-on-one online tutoring.
Every middle and high school student enrolled full-time with Excel has access to TTB’s highly trained tutors. Since this is a beneficial feature of our programs, you never have to worry about falling behind or getting overwhelmed with your coursework. If you’re not an Excel student, you can check out our online tutoring and homework help packages on the TTB website.
Take clear, organized notes.
While you’re reading, take good notes. Handwritten notes have been scientifically proven to be the most effective way for students to connect with the content in their courses. The human brain relates strongly with handwritten notes, so be sure to take your time and record the most important information as you read the text.
You can use multiple colors to highlight or underline key terms, dates, or names, and you can flag important information with sticky notes. Using whatever notetaking style works best for you will help you prepare for your exam.
Reflect on the notes.
Once you’ve read and taken notes on a lesson, go back through your notes to make sure you understand everything. After you’ve read the next lesson, read through the past few days of notes to help the information stay fresh in your brain. Once a week, go through the past couple weeks’ notes. This ensures that you know what’s in your notes, making them more user-friendly on test day.
Know what the exam format will be.
Be sure you know what types of questions will be on the exam. This will help you know what tools you need when you take the exam. Will you need paper to work out math problems? Can you use a calculator? Understanding ahead of time what you’ll need when you sit down for your exam will help alleviate any frustration on the day of the assessment.
Right Before the Exam
Find a quiet space.
Most of us like to think that we can be productive and focused in a chaotic environment, but when you’re taking a test, it’s best to find a quiet space where you can concentrate and not end up flustered by distractions or noise. Finding a quiet place to take your test ahead of time will prevent frustration that could lead to a less than optimal performance.
Gather and organize materials.
Right before your exam, be sure that you have everything you need for your assessment. Calculator, notes, writing utensils, a fully charged laptop, and your organized notes can be gathered in the quiet space and waiting for you when you sit down to take the test.
Before you press start on your exam, sit quietly and calm your mind and body. Take a few deep, slow breaths; drop your shoulders; drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth; and just breath. Release anxiety with each long, slow exhale. Clear your mind of anything else going on so that you feel focused and peaceful when you start answering questions.
During the Exam
Monitor anxiety levels.
If you start to notice your body tensing, your brain feeling fuzzy, or your heartrate increasing, stop. Go back to the mental preparation above. Clear your mind of the anxiety and value yourself and your performance enough to take time to relax and breath. Release the anxiety as you exhale and then get back to the test.
Use allowed resources.
If you’re allowed to use your notes, then use them! Even if you are certain of the answers, do a quick check to make sure your answers are correct. Not every school permits students to use notes when they’re being assessed, but at EHS, you can. Take advantage of the clear, organized notes you’ve taken and check them as you work through your test.
Keep moving forward.
Don’t stop and stare for long periods of time at more difficult questions. This will increase your anxiety. The more questions you answer with confidence, the less scary the harder questions will seem. Instead of feeling pressured to answer every question correctly right away, mark down what question numbers you’re not sure about, and go back to them. Answer with your most reasonable guess, and then when you’re done with the test, check those question numbers again. The pressure of all of the other questions will be gone, and you can give your full attention to the more difficult ones, taking the time to carefully read through your notes to see if you can find something to help you feel more confident in your answers.
Check your answers.
After you’ve worked through the test, go back to check your answers. Be sure you haven’t accidentally clicked the wrong answer or read any questions incorrectly. Take the time to look through your notes for any answers that you aren’t completely sure about. You have plenty of time on your assessments, so be your own best advocate and check to make sure you show what you know through your answers.
After the Exam
Evaluate your notes.
Based on your performance on the test, take another look at your notes. Were there items on the test that you didn’t include in your notes? Could you read and understand the organization of your notes? Figuring out ways you could improve will help you better prepare for future assessments.
Assess your progress.
How did you do? If you didn’t do as well as you’d have liked, at EHS, you can take the exam a second time. Re-evaluate your notes, review the lessons, and face that second attempt like a champ! If you did as well as you hoped or even better, celebrate your success!
We all learn and grow as we become more comfortable with different forms of learning. Each of your classes will have different expectations, and as you become more comfortable with the types of questions your classes ask of you, you’ll learn more about what your notes should look like, what sections in the text you might need to read over a few times, and how to better prepare for your next test. Everyone goes through a learning process. The beauty of a flexible, self-paced program is that you can take the time to plan ahead ensuring your next success.