Balancing Test Preparation With Other Responsibilities

By Danielle Wirsansky on November 19, 2017

You think in college that the only tests you will need to take will happen in class, right? But the closer you get to graduation, the more you learn that often more tests await you outside of the classroom.

Interested in going to graduate school? You might need to take the GRE, LSAT, or GMAT test. Need a certification for your career path? There are often tests you need to pass in order to attain it. There are also many jobs that you need to pass tests for in order to be eligible.

Studying for and taking a test is difficult enough, and no one gives you a break from school, work, or any other responsibilities you may have in order to get through it. So how do you do it? How do you juggle all your responsibilities on top of the additional burden of test taking? Read on for some tips on how to balance test preparation with your other responsibilities.

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Start early

One way to stay on top of all of your obligations is to begin your test prep as soon as you know that you will be taking a test.

Three months away? Great. Start now so you do not procrastinate and can be sure you study every aspect of the test that you need to so that you are prepared for it. Two weeks away? Do not waste any more time, dive right in because if you start now you can see what you need to study most and focus on your weakest aspects. Two days away? Start right away because you are going to need all the time you can possibly scrape together so that you can make sure that you get a high enough score that you do not have to go through the wretched process again.

The earlier you start your studying, the more confident you will be going into the test because you will know that you went over the material and did everything that you possibly could in order to score well on this test. Holding yourself accountable and starting early rather than procrastinating also helps you to achieve success. No one ever said taking a test was fun, but you can make it a less stressful experience by making sure you have gone thoroughly over your materials without being overwhelmed with your other responsibilities.

Set goals

I find setting goals for myself one of the best ways to make myself accountable. Do I want to go hang out with my friends at the bar tonight? I can’t, unless I have accomplished X, Y, and Z. Do I want to eat a bowl of ice cream? Not till I finish that practice test!! Do I want to order the latest book by my favorite author and read it right away? No way, Jose, unless I score my ideal grade on my practice tests.

They do not have to be big goals; you set them for yourself, and you make them manageable for your lifestyle and compatible with all of your other responsibilities. Maybe you cannot accomplish the same goals from week to week — maybe next week is finals week and you have to cut back on your test prep so you can focus on finishing all the papers you have due.

But the week after that, you will have more time, so tweak your goals to match your schedule. Instead of stressing yourself about being unable to attain unreachable goals, set small ones that you know you can accomplish if you focus enough.

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Schedule your time

Another great tactic to balance test prep with your other responsibilities is to very specifically carve out times and schedule what you are doing and when. A step in the right direction is saying, I am going to read and go through one chapter of this test prep book a week. But then it is the end of the week and you realize you did not actually set aside any specific times in order to accomplish that goal and your test prep fell to the wayside in light of your other responsibilities.

Be really specific about when you are going to study and what you are going to accomplish with that study time. You could say, every morning from 7:30-8:30 a.m. I am going to do one chapter of my test prep book, or schedule yourself a two-hour slot every Wednesday to do a partial practice test.

Whatever you need to accomplish within a certain amount of time, set yourself a specific goal within a specific time frame so that you know that you are staying on schedule and accomplishing everything that you feel you need to in order to pass. That. Test. Keep your eye on the prize, and it will all turn out well in the end.

Danielle Wirsansky graduated from FSU with a BA in Theatre and a BA in Creative Writing with a minor in History. She is a second year graduate student in FSU's History department where she serves as the Communications Officer for the History Graduate Student Association and President of White Mouse Theatre Productions. She studied abroad in London, England for the Spring 2015 semester at FSU's study center for the Playwriting Program and interned for the English National Theatre of Israel in Summer of 2015. Her first musical, City of Light, opened as part of FSU's New Horizons Festival in Spring of 2016. She has also won the MRCE and URCAA Research grants from FSU. In the past, she served as the Marketing Director for the FSU Student Theatre Association, the intern for the Holocaust Education Resource Council, and the research assistant of Prof. Nathan Stoltzfus. She has previously written for Context Florida (Contributing Writer), USA Today College (Contributing Writer), Sheroes of History (Contributing Blogger), No(le)Reservations (Contributing Blogger), Female, Reloaded (Arts/Entertainment Editor) , I Want a Buzz Magazine (intern), Mandarin Newsline (youth arts update columnist), Distink Designs (Guest blogger), whatscheaper.com (associate editor), escapewizard.com (associate editor), Spark TLH (Contributor), the Tallahassee Democrat (contributor), Elan Literary Magazine (Head of Marketing), and the Improviser Newspaper (Opinions Editor).

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