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A Guide to Taking Tests: Pandemic Edition


This word can have many meanings to the average person. Driving test? Blood test? More often than not, this word relates to academic assessments. Whether it be a math or French test, each student uses different tricks and strategies to prepare for such tests, and have mixed feelings about these assessments. Especially throughout the pandemic, tests have taken a different route in many classes and can be even more stressful than they usually were. From studying tips to managing test anxiety, here’s a guide to taking tests, pandemic edition!

Using your resources

In order to adequately study for a particular test, it’s important to use all the resources available to you, both through your class and teacher and those available online. This includes:

  • Course materials and worksheets

  • Textbooks

  • Success criteria and rubrics

  • YouTube videos

  • Useful websites (Khan Academy, Quizlet)

Studying tips

To properly prepare for any assessment, it’s important to start as early as possible, to ensure all of the test content is reviewed. Procrastination is inevitable, but it's important to minimize it as much as possible (check out our student success box #1 to find tips on minimizing procrastination!). Here are some tips on how to study to the best of your ability:

  • Create a study plan

  • Schedule frequent studying times throughout the week

  • Use notes that work for you; either online or handwritten

  • Find the medium of studying that works for you; this could be reading over class material, doing multiple practice question, or creating cue cards

  • Make sure to attend review or extra help sessions scheduled by your teachers or professors

Pre-test routine

While studying is important, late-night cramming sessions are not always good for your brain, and it’s hard to retain information in your brain during such a stressful period. The night or a couple of hours before the test, it’s important to take a few steps to properly relax and clear your head.

  • Make sure to get an adequate amount of sleep, at least 8 hours

  • Relax by doing something that calms you - maybe reading a book, listening to some music, or watching your favourite TV show

  • Ensure all your test materials or tools are ready for the morning of the test

  • If needed, have some quick review notes to look over before the test; try to include the hardest topics or the ones you struggle with the most

  • Fuel up; make sure to be hydrated and eat nutritious food(s)

Dealing with test anxiety

Tests can definitely be stressful. Butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, and a rapid heart rate are all signs of being scared or anxious prior to an assessment. And if this happens to you too, don’t worry about it! Test anxiety happens to a lot of people, whether it's visible or not, and every individual has their own way of dealing with it. Regardless, here are some general strategies to deal with these feelings:

  • Stay calm: While this is easier said than done, breathing steadily when you are stressed and just trying to clear your thoughts can really help.

  • Focus on yourself: During a test, don’t be distracted by what other students are doing or what page of the test they’re on. Instead, focus on your own work and pacing yourself so that you are able to complete all the questions.

  • Maintain a positive mindset: Often, thinking negatively about a test can throw you into a bad mindset, which can ultimately cause you to care less about the assessment and focus more on your negative emotions. Instead, be optimistic, and use all opportunities on a test to demonstrate your knowledge about a particular topic.

  • Ask for clarification: If you are confused about a question on a test, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification - it might help you think more clearly if your teacher explains the question to you.

Doing tests at home or online

Due to the pandemic, tests may need to be taken at home, through online means, or both. It’s important to follow the rules given by your instructor when completing the test. Additionally, make sure to let your family knows about this test, and try to slot it in during a time that there will be a minimal amount of distractions. Ensure you complete the test in a clear and clean area, and pretend you are actually in a physical classroom - how would you do the test then? Take a similar approach to do this at-home test as well, in order to adequately test your knowledge and help your teacher and yourself identify areas where you may need some extra help.

Final advice

Taking a test, in the middle of a pandemic or not, can be stressful. However, in order to limit this stress, it’s important to find the strategies that work best for you, for studying, and for dealing with anxiousness. As much as it’s easy to worry about one test because it defines your mark, remember that for the most part, it probably doesn’t. There are multiple opportunities to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding to your instructor, so if a test doesn’t work out, know that there are other ways too. Our advice: communicate. Especially during a time where student-teacher interactions may be limited, it’s crucial for you to be able to communicate with your teacher about your own feelings and stresses, so that they are aware of what is going on, and can hopefully assist you.


Miller, L. (n.d.) Test Anxiety. Retrieved October 11, 2020, from


10 Ways to Overcome Test Anxiety. (n.d.). Retrieved October 11, 2020, from


Featured image courtesy of Kaboompics via Pexels

Article Author: Asima Hudani

Article Editors: Valerie Shirobokov, Victoria Huang