Test-Taking Strategies
Worst-Case Scenarios
We hope everything will run smoothly on test day. On the off chance that something does go wrong, keep in mind that there is always a solution.
Scenario 1: Your test booklet is blank, missing pages, or pages are stuck together.
Don’t panic. Just raise your hand and the proctor will handle it.
Scenario 2: Your neighbor is coughing or fidgeting.
Don’t be polite. Raise your hand and have the proctor move you.
Scenario 3: Your calculator stops working.
Always bring extra batteries and a backup calculator with you. If your backup breaks too—well, the odds are pretty slim, and even if it does, you rarely need to use your calculator on the test.
Scenario 4: You freeze or have an anxiety or panic attack.
Take a minute or two to do the following:
  • Stop what you’re doing.
  • Look up from the test and out a window, if possible, or at a poster or blackboard. Focus on that completely. Alternatively, close your eyes and picture a beautiful, calm place you’ve been to or even just imagined. Force yourself to breathe deeply, slowly, and rhythmically.
  • Stretch your arms and back to loosen up any tension.
  • Return to what you were doing.
Scenario 5: You misgrid your answers.
Raise your hand and talk to the proctor about it. You may or may not be allowed to regrid your test, so be careful when filling in those tiny bubbles.
Unless something completely wacky occurs—such as you have mono when you take the test, the power goes out, or you totally misgrid or omit an entire section—resist the temptation to cancel your score. Most people underestimate how well they’ve done, and after almost four hours of high-level, adrenaline-fueled concentration, you’ll be crashing. Most likely, canceling your score is a bad idea.
You’re allowed until the Wednesday following your test date to cancel your score. Your biochemistry should be stable by then, but still think long and hard about canceling what may be a great score.
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