04 Feb

Better Grades in only 6 Seconds?

Could you use a fast way to improve your grades? Then get ready to slow down. Many exam and test errors come from the same source. Not reading the question well. We get stressed and hurry through the tst questions, missing the main points. We trip onto an answer that ‘looks right’ because we haven’t fully comprehended the question. And we end up getting the question wrong.

Here is how you can fix it.

Each time you come to a question on a test or exam STOP and count three long, steady breaths.



Breath slowly and easily while your eyes scan the test question and possible answers. 

one … ( IN … OUT)

two … ( IN … OUT)

three … ( IN … OUT)

As you breath slowly and count, let your eyes slowly read the complete exam question and ALL possible answers or options.  There is no hurry.  Please read every word even if you think you know the question or the answer seems obvious.  There are often hidden traps or nuances to test questions that Pele miss.  Slow down.  Read everything. Breathe.

Now here’s the kicker. After counting out three long breaths and reading everything thoroughly, ask yourself “How would my instructor answer this question?”. This prompts your brain to recall the class when your teacher discussed the topic. Don’t try to force yourself.  Just imagine yourself asking the teacher and then imagine their answer.  This removes the focus from yourself and your stress. It also turns on your visual memory – the most powerful way to remember things.  Now you are ready to answer the test question.  Go ahead.

This three breath method may feel like it takes a long time.  It doesn’t.  Using a stop watch you will find that it takes less than 4 seconds per test question. If you use the three breath method on a 60 minute, 100 question exam, you will be done in less than 45 minutes, leaving lots of time for review.

Most people actually finish there exams faster with this method. And they get better grades too.

We suggest you pick up a practice exam and with each test question repeat this pattern until it becomes automatic:

(breath) one …

(breath) two …

(breath) three …

(think)“How would my instructor answer this question?”

Try it today. It works.


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26 Jan

Writing for Essay Exams

Have you ever faced an exam with only one question? It’s the essay exam that we all dread. You’ll get a single question on the page like “Explain the causes of the American Civil War including parties involved, issues and key people.” followed by 2 hours and 1500 words to answer.

It might be the toughest type of test there is.

The best way to prepare for essay is exams is … to write essays.  And nothing helps write academic essays better than Gerald Graff’s book They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. If you haven’t yet checked this slim gem out from your school library we recommend you do payday loan consolidation. Soon. Be prepared to get in line with a lot of other people who want help with their essays too. This little book helps you write persuasively and conversationally with the ‘academic’ flavor needed to win good grades.

We recommend working through this book as a group or with a writing teacher since the best practice is … practice. Find topics that excites you, like the newest snowboards, and then turn out 1500 words to amaze and educate your friends. Or start a blog and write weekly about skirt styles. Whatever works best to get you writing.

The secret to success on essay exams is learning to write great essays. On any topic.

09 Dec

Home Baked Practice Exams

How do you prepare for an exam? Do you read your classroom notes until your eyeballs hurt? Do you highlight your textbook with a bright yellow marker?

When teachers prepare tests, they don’t spend hours highlighting pages and neither should you. Instead, teachers read through the textbook and lecture notes, writing down possible test questions for each topic they want to cover in class.

It’s easy to become your own teacher. As you read your textbook and go through your lecture notes, write down the exam questions you would ask if you were the teacher. By creating your own exam questions, it makes your brain think ‘backwards’ about the topic and produces a great way to memorize information.

When you’re finished with your home baked exam questions, give them to a friend and ask him or her to quiz you. You’ll be surprised at how quickly and easily you remember things. If you miss a question, make note of which areas to study more. Take turns quizzing each other – after all, the best way to study for a test is by taking the test!

24 Aug

The Final Answer on Changing Your Test Answers

What if higher grades on your next test or exam were as easy as changing a few answers to a few questions? It could be!

The problem is that most of us aren’t sure whether we should go with the first ‘gut’ level answer we give for a test question or whether we should change an answer later to one that seems more right. Isn’t your first instinct always the best on a test?

Not according to scientific research. Joseph Hallinan’s book Why We Make Mistakes lists ‘overconfidence’ as one of the biggest sources of goof ups and errors. Research on test and exam success rates shows that people who go back and review their test answers before turning in their test get better grades overall. In fact 70% of the time people change a test answer they change it from wrong to right. Yes – seventy percent. In short – your second guess is almost always better than your first guess on a test question.

So why do people think their first test guess is best? Well … first answers just ‘feel’ right and most of us make decisions by feeling. It’s also especially embarrassing when your test is returned to you and you see a question slashed through with red that you know was changed. It feels ‘double dumb’ to change an answer from right to wrong. And we have all done it. We just don’t notice that 70% of the answers we change went the right way. We painfully notice the small percent that went wrong.

So make sure you take a few minutes to review your test answers before you turn the test into your instructor. If you are using a computer based exam you might even have a ‘review’ button that lets you quickly thumb through your answers and change any that look wrong. Your brief review can pay off in better grades.

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Looking for more ways to relax and be successful on tests? Check out our book 101 Secrets to Passing Any Test for more easy ways to succeed in school or sign up for our emails just bursting with fun ways to get better grades.