Pop quiz alert! 5 strategies to ace a surprise test

You know exactly what it looks like: You walk into class and there’s Teach, standing in front of her desk holding a sheaf of papers with a strange glint in her eye. Uh oh. It’s pop quiz time. But before you start hyperventilating, take a deep breath. You can rock this! Here’s how.

#1. Listen to the directions (if it’s an oral quiz) or read them carefully (if it’s on paper)

Following directions counts—and if something is unclear, it’s totally OK to ask so you don’t have to worry unnecessarily. Things you might need to know include: showing your work (or not), spelling a character’s name right (or not), knowing exact dates (or, well, not).

#2. If you can, do what you know you know first

Get it out of the way. Then, if you run out of time, at least you’ve gained some points you can count on. Remember, chances are your first instinct is the right one, so try not to second guess a gut response unless you have a really good reason to change up your answer.

#3. A partial answer is better than no answer

Don’t despair if you have no clue what the whole answer is—start with what you know, even if it’s only the beginning of an equation or just one of the reasons behind World War I. Chances are the more you reason out the answer you’ve got down, more will come to you. And if not, hey, at least you’re not ditching the entire question.

#4. Do your homework

And if you can’t read through the whole chapter or figure out the entire worksheet, you need to skim at least the headings so you have the basics down. A lot of time, teachers use pop quizzes just to make sure you’ve done the reading. The questions aren’t hard—but you need to pay attention. So pay attention (and set aside time to get it all done, next time!).

#5. …And do it before bedtime

Your brain uses sleep to transform your short term memories into long term memories. Research shows that your memory recall improves when you study—not cram—before bedtime rather than getting up early the next morning to do it. If you can’t get it all done, quickly reviewing your notes while you walk to class if your teacher has hinted at a pop quiz can help, too.

What’s your best pop quiz strategy? Share ‘em in the comments!


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by Brittany Taylor | 2/1/2016
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