When you’re in a healthcare degree or certificate program, you can expect to take several tests. Whether you’re a nursing student, medical assisting student, or other healthcare student, it’s common to feel some test anxiety. Knowing how to study for tests can help you feel more prepared and calmer on test day. The following test taking tips for students in healthcare programs can help you out.

Testing Strategies for Different Test Types

The best way to study for a test depends on the type of test it is, such as multiple answer choice or essay. When you know which type of test you’ll be taking, you can focus on strategies for handling those kinds of questions. Keep the following test-taking tips for students in mind based on different test types.

1. Multiple Choice

For multiple choice questions, one of the best strategies is to eliminate answers you know are wrong first. You can then look over the remaining options and choose your answer from those. Trying to guess what the answer is as you read through the question might also be helpful. You can look for the answer that matches your guess and eliminate the others.

2. Essay Strategies

When you need to write one or more essays for a test, make sure you fully understand what you should be writing about. Write down a few ideas or concepts you want to use in the essay, then make an outline before you start writing. Read through your essay when you’re done to check for any errors.

3. True/False

True or false questions on tests can be tricky to answer. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that answers with words such as “never” or “always” tend to be false. Make sure you read through these questions carefully and pay close attention to the way questions and answers are worded.

4. Short Answer

When you have short answer questions on tests, try to reword these questions in your head before answering. Doing this can help you figure out how you want to word your answers. Keep these answers concise and to the point, rather than overly wordy.

5. Subjective Questions

Subjective questions on tests ask you for an opinion or explanation. You might see these in the form of short answer or essay questions. Make sure that you provide enough detailed information to answer subjective questions. Even if you are asked for an opinion, you’ll be expected to give a thoughtful and compelling answer on your test.

Test Prep

How you prepare for your test and the amount of time you spend studying can make a big difference on test day. These tips can help you prepare for upcoming tests and exams as a healthcare student.

1. Review Assigned Readings

Go over assigned readings you’ve had in your classes as you study for tests. These readings provide you with the material you’ll need to understand for your tests. You can also email your instructors to ask for additional resources if needed, such as if you’re struggling with understanding one or more concepts in your healthcare classes.

2. Create Memory Aids to Study

In addition to going over assigned readings, making memory aids can help you study for tests. Create flashcards with different concepts or material you need to study, for example. You can also try other memory aids, such as tying a concept to a visual image in your mind. Reading out loud can also help you remember facts and concepts better.

3. Make a Study Schedule

It’s best to avoid cramming the night before you take an exam or test. Instead, come up with a study schedule that allows you to study gradually over the course of several days or even weeks. Keep study sessions from becoming too long, so that you won’t have trouble focusing. Plan for multiple, shorter study sessions leading up to your test instead.

4. Relax and Calm Your Anxiety

While it’s normal to have test anxiety to some degree as a healthcare student, being nervous can make it harder to focus on your test. Take steps to calm your mind and relax, especially the night before your test, rather than worrying about studying at the last minute. Practice mindfulness to ease your anxiety and take deep breaths when you start feeling anxious.

Day of the Exam

When test day arrives, there are ways to make sure you do well on your exam. Keep the following tips in mind, so you can stay calm and focused on test day.

1. Arrive Ahead of Time

Avoid showing up right before your test starts, since having to rush can add to your stress and make it harder to concentrate. Instead, plan on arriving ahead of time. Depending on where you live, this might mean factoring in traffic and weather. If you’re taking your test online, it’s still important to show up early and make sure your internet connection is reliable. Arriving early for tests helps ensure you start on time while also giving you a chance to do some more deep breathing and calm your brain.

2. Read Directions Carefully

Before answering any questions, make sure you read through directions carefully. This helps you avoid making simple errors on your test that could easily be avoided. Take your time going over directions and ask your instructor for clarification if needed.

3. Look Over the Entire Test Before Starting

Don’t dive right into answering questions on your test. Instead, look over the whole exam first. Doing this can help with time management, so you won’t end up feeling rushed while taking your test. Looking over the whole test can help you plan ahead, such as giving yourself more time for essay questions compared to multiple choice or true/false questions.

4. Read Each Question Slowly

When you have an idea of how long to spend on different parts of your test, you won’t have to rush through it. Take your time reading each question, no matter what type it is. Careful reading can help you avoid falling for tricky or misleading words that are easy to overlook, such as “not.” This can help lower your risk of making careless errors on your test.

5. Prioritize Sections

When deciding how to spend your test-taking time, prioritize sections. For example, you might want to tackle your essay first to get it out of the way before moving on to simpler questions. However, some people find it easier to do more straightforward questions first before writing short answers or essays.

If you’re looking into healthcare degrees for your career, contact The College of Health Care Professions (CHCP). Our school has several healthcare degree and certificate programs available with online, on-campus, and blended instruction options.