In addition to developing a deep understanding of the content included on teacher exams, you also need to prepare yourself emotionally and physically to test. Technology and social media have beckoned us into a world of living in the instant. In sharp contrast to tweets and snaps, teacher exams require that you sustain mental focus on one task while sitting in one chair staring at one screen for up to four hours. When did you last sit for four hours, much less sit and focus on one demanding task?
If you are not in the habit of sitting for a long session focused on a single challenging endeavor, you’ll want to follow some strategies to prepare yourself for your test day.
Assess your anxiety level. A measure of anxiety is to be expected and may even provide a boost while you’re testing and preparing. Too much anxiety can paralyze. As you prepare, take time to think through the root cause of your anxiety. Do you lack confidence in your critical knowledge of the test objectives? Does the multiple choice or the open response seem more foreboding? Do you think about the logistics of waking up, getting to the test, and navigating the test site? What piece of the testing threatens your night’s sleep? Identify your stressors, and set about to resolve them.
Develop mental stamina. You’ll need to focus on the exam every minute for up to four hours. There are no commercial breaks and no ninth-inning stretches. One of the best ways to prepare is to read a challenging book or to study for the exam for four uninterrupted hours. No phone. No flipping to a social media site. No breaks.
Know the test. One of the best strategies for easing emotional distress is to be fully informed. Study the test website. Know the standards and objectives. Understand the types of questions and test features such as flag for review. You’ll want to make use of all of the information and helps that are provided by the testing site.
Train your body. We snack at home, snack in class, snack at the movies, snack in study groups in the library. We carry around liters of water and make frequent trips to the bathroom. Unfortunately, snacking and sipping won’t be smiled upon at your test.
Be time sensitive. Work on developing an inner awareness of the passage of time so that you can avoid frequently checking the clock to make sure you’re on track.
Choose practical clothing. The normal strategy is to layer. You can add or take off to make sure your body is at its best temperature to be mentally sharp.
Simulate Test Day
After you register for your test, try simulating your test day. Plan your sleep, wake up time, meals, transportation, and arrival. Follow your plan as nearly as possible and station yourself at a library or quiet study area. Sit for four hours and engage in a mentally-demanding task. Avoid snacks and other distractions. When you finish, evaluate your experiment. Did you feel fatigued? Did you stay mentally sharp? Do you need to make changes, plan another simulation, or rest assured that you’re ready?
In the midst of your eons of preparation for this one very important test, remember that emotional and physical preparation will help you to perform at your best.