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4 traits of a neurotic test-taker

Shutterstock | Lucky Business
Shutterstock | Lucky Business

I think I’ve been a student for way too long. Evidence: I’m starting to deconstruct and over-analyze how I (and other students) take an exam. Everything from mannerisms to the speed of completion…

Yeah. I’m one of those people.

We learned about “test-taking strategies” in nursing school. It’s not only important to know the material for the exam (of course), but how you take the exam is almost equally as important.

How do you read the words on the paper? What words to you focus on — the wording of the question versus the wording of the answer? What are the key words and phrases that can rule in and rule out a potential answer (never, sometimes, always)?

It’s all a bunch of psycho-babble until you start taking exams for a living! (Yeah, I’ve definitely been a student for too long.)

Ultimately, an exam is sort of like playing in the “big game” of your chosen sport. Mental mind tricks and voodoo seances are not a far cry from what a student will do to stack the deck in favor of a good grade. Here are some things I constantly think about when I take an exam:

Seating arrangement

  • I need to be at the end of the seating row. I have no idea why, I just need to be at the end.

Ambidextrous seats

  • Most school campuses have the auditorium-like classrooms that have those collapsible desk tables that fold down to the side of your chair. I’m right-handed, so I can never sit in the left-handed chair, no matter what! (I had to during a recent exam because there were no other seats available. It was emotionally traumatic – ha.)

Noise, noise, noise

  • Am I the only one who can hear every noise possible in the room during an exam? God forbid you take an exam with someone who has a head cold or upper respiratory infection. The incessant coughing is enough to make you scream.

Speedy Gonzales

  • I can never be the first one done with the exam. And the first person who finishes an exam always seems to make me paranoid. As if I’m doing something wrong for not going as quickly, or maybe I don’t know the material as well as I thought I did?!

All of these little idiosyncrasies definitely make me sound like a neurotic student, don’t they? Anyone else care to join me?

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2 Responses to 4 traits of a neurotic test-taker

  1. beautifulsouth0

    Haha… I’m always the first one done with an exam. I never get stuck on a question, because I either know the answer or I don’t, then guess using my “What step in the nursing process are they looking for me to answer with? What verb tense? Airway, airway, airway…” method, then move on. And I’m ALWAYS paranoid about finishing first- I KNOW I failed, even though I never score less than 85%. Am I a good test taker? Maybe. But I think that my interest in pathophysiology helps me “work out” any answer.

  2. RNDanielle Student

    I like to sit in the back row, closest to the door, preferably on the right side of the classroom. I must have an open chair on either side of me and spread my papers and body out as much as possible, probably using a second chair to put my legs up on. I require multiple pens to be laid out…only to use one of them the entire time. I also must take my hair down and put it up multiple times. I zone out and hear no noises…unless they are in the hall, then I hear EVERYTHING. I also must be either the very first one done, having completed the exam at an ungodly rate, OR if I cannot do that, I must be the last one done…typically causing the prof to stay late so I can finish.

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