The Morning of an Exam

ESL students at Hancock International College are having final exams this week. Here is some sound advice for our international students for the morning of the exam from Kelly Roell’s article titled “5 Things to Do the Day of the Test” at

Roell says, “01 Prepare Physically – On the day of the test, head to the restroom before you ever get to class. You will not perform your best if you need to use it. Get a drink of water so thirst isn’t on your mind, either. Eat a breakfast that involves brain food, and exercise, even if that consists of a simple walk around the block in the morning before you get to school. Prepare yourself physically before you take your exam, so your body isn’t pinging messages to your brain that will distract you. Nothing says, ‘Poor score’ like a hungry belly growling during testing time, or restless legs itching to get up and move. Take care of yourself first so your brain is functioning at its best.

02 Review the Facts – Go through your review sheet or flashcards one last time before putting them away. Your eyes may glimpse some small fact that you didn’t really get the previous nights you were studying, and that small detail could show on the test. Glancing through your notes, handouts and study guide may be just what you needed to remember it.

03 Calm Down – Before you test, you need to take steps to overcome your test anxiety, and there are several things you can do on the day of the test to help you get there. Allowing yourself to get anxious about your exam will not help you score your highest; in fact, anxiety can actually decrease your score because your brain will be working hard to calm you down instead of trying to remember what it was that you learned. So take some calming breaths and relax. […]

04 Flex Those Muscles – And we’re not talking about flexing metaphorically — flex your actual muscles! No, you don’t have to do the whole, ‘Which way to the gym?’ bicep flex, but rather some focused muscle relaxation. Just clench and unclench your muscles one by one. Start with your hands, then calf muscles and quads. Flex and release any muscle group you can from your desk. By bunching and releasing your muscles, you will rid yourself of any remaining anxiety leftover from your calming activities before.

05 Chat Up Your Friends – Unless you’re specifically told not to, talk to the people sitting next to you the day of the test — your fellow classmates. Ask them questions. What did they think was important to remember in the study guide? Someone may bring up a fact you never went over, and missing that question could be the difference between two grades. Ask them if there was a part of the book or study guide they had trouble with. If it’s a part you’re struggling with too, maybe they’ll have some insight into making the knowledge stick. Pick their brains and see if you find anything worth taking with you into the test.”

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Idiom of the Day

To rack one’s brain

Meaning: To think very hard about something to try to figure something out.

Example: I have been racking my brain around this question, but I cannot seem to figure out the answer.