It’s a common fear of just about everyone- failing a test. With fear of the unknown comes anxiety and nervousness. It’s probably the reason a lot of cosmetology graduates postpone taking the state board licensure exam. Sure, during classes in beauty school there are mock state boards and prep lessons. They are extremely helpful. But they were with your teacher and peers and the real thing is so much scarier! Well, it’s important to ease this fear, as studies show test anxiety can affect concentration and prevent recall of information.
To help you relax, know that there are some things that can be done to perform better on the state board exam. Here are some tips to help reduce the fear and worry that is normal with test-taking.
Before the Exam:
- Review your class notes. You took detailed notes during lectures, labs, and projects. Check these every so often, instead of cramming it in all at once. Information overload is for real. Too much material while under stress is overwhelming and limits your ability to absorb data.
- Create your own study guide. Make a personal test prep folder or e-file with lists, notes and outlines as a quick summary to memorize facts and figures. Much better than trying to read through stacks of books. Plus, it’s personalized to the way you study (and remember) best.
- Make your own practice test. You can acquire and retain more from the material if you look through notes and books and devise some mini-tests to quiz yourself or a friend. Just by researching through facts to develop the Q &A’s, you’ll gain considerable confidence and knowledge before even answering a question.
- Find a study buddy. Two heads are indeed better than one. Studying with others keeps momentum going, combines resources, and tends to result in higher test scores.
- Find out all about the licensure exam. Your teacher will advise you on what content will most likely appear on the exam, level of difficulty, rules and regulations, etc. It helps to know what you’re prepping for!
- Know the place and time. Nothing can add more stress at the worst time than getting lost on the way to the exam, and consequently being late. You end up being distracted and negative before your first question! This can set the stage in a bad way for the rest of the run. Be prepared…don’t take chances.
- Eat a good breakfast or lunch. The last thing you want is to think about how hungry you are while trying to remember hair color formulas. Don’t overdose on caffeine either; you’ll become anxious and have racing thoughts.
During the Exam:
- Get in the right frame of mind. Your mental attitude can help dictate focus and recall. Avoid fellow students who are panicked or frustrated. Trust that you know the material and prepared well. Keep in mind that your goal is to answer as many questions correctly as possible, and that some will be more difficult than others.
- Follow all instructions. Listen carefully and read what’s presented before you jump in. It can be a costly mistake to enter answers incorrectly or misread timing. Make notes on a scrap paper if you think you might forget any directions.
- Preview the entire test before answering anything. A quick review takes the mystery (and therefore anxiety) out of the exam. This way you can note the length and budget your time advantageously. Plan to spend more time on questions worth more points.
- Answer the easiest questions first. This is a standard test-taking strategy. Going in order makes you linger on stumpers and drains your mental capacity early. Besides, checking off all those answers early builds your confidence and may provide clues for answering the more difficult questions.
- Focus on keywords or main points in the tough questions. This strategy lets you see what’s really being asked. Another trick is to rephrase the question in your own way.
After the Exam:
Do something special-reward yourself! You worked hard, you did your best, and now you can enjoy a treat. You deserve it!
How about our readers? Any other tips to help with the state board exam? What other reasons do you think students are not taking the test right after graduation?