Prior Planning Prevents Perplexing Problems

College & Career Readiness | 03/19/2019

Karen Clark
Development Manager

Karen is the development manager for Louisiana, she is deeply committed to equity in education.

Proper Prior Planning Prevents Perplexing Problems

I remember waking up the morning of tests in high school with butterflies in my stomach.

Had I studied enough? Did I really understand the concepts? What if there was a question about that topic I spent less time engaging with? What if I draw a blank? What if I run out of time?

Testing can be stressful, but it can also be a useful tool to measure learning and adjust instruction. With spring testing on the horizon for Louisiana’s students, we put together a few tips on how to prepare:

  1. Eat a healthy breakfast. Food powers the brain and a fully belly goes a long way in mitigating distractions.
  2. Build your confidence. You know more than you think you do. Do what builds your confidence in the minutes, hours, and days leading up to a test: give yourself a pep talk in the mirror, write yourself a positive note, draw a smiley face on your mirror with dry erase markers so you see it when you’re brushing your teeth before school. It may be silly, but if it works, do it.
  3. Expel jittery energy. Do a few pushups before the test starts to release nervous energy.
  4. Bring pencils! Or pens, or a calculator, or a ruler. Make sure you have the supplies you’ll need to succeed.
  5. Breathe. Really, breathe.
  6. Ask questions. Your teachers are there to support your learning. Ask them questions about content, developing strong study habits, and what concepts to focus on while studying. If it makes you more comfortable, seek out a guidance counselor, favorite teacher in another subject, or family friend to help you with questions.
  7. Understand the instructions. Before you jump into Question #1, read the instructions to make sure you know what is being asked of you. Will you lose points for a wrong answer? Is the last essay question worth 50% of the grade so it’s worth prioritizing over the 40 multiple choice questions?
  8. Check your work. Then check it again.
  9. When you receive your graded test, go back and review your answers. Remember, school should be about learning, not only about earning high marks. If your test indicates you struggled with a concept, ask your teacher for additional support so that you truly grasp the material before moving onto the next topic.

Testing may give you the butterflies or make it hard to sleep or difficult to eat breakfast, but the more you discover how to ease your nerves, the more routine preparing will be. As my high school band teacher Mr. Burn used to say: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Perplexing Problems. So do your best to prepare: study, take your time, eat up, get rest, and breathe!

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