How to Prepare for the Day of Your Numeracy Test

The more you know about the practical side of sitting your numeracy test, the less stressed you are. The less stressed you are, the easier it is to think clearly. And the more clearly you can think, the more marks you get in the exam.

Know where the exam is

Funnily enough, sitting an exam is really hard if you don’t know where it is. Find out where you’ll be sitting the paper – what room, in what building – and, if it’s at all possible, go there to check it out.

If you can’t see any signs to tell you where you need to go for your numeracy test, ask a member of staff for help.

If you’re planning to travel by car, check that you can park there. Do you need to bring change for the car park machine? If you’re planning to use public transport, give yourself plenty of time.

Always plan to arrive early. You don’t want to be panicking about arriving on time – giving yourself an extra half-hour can save you from some of the stress of getting caught in traffic or having your train delayed.

Bring what you need for your numeracy test

Different numeracy tests have different requirements for the items you need in the exam. In some cases the test centre provides all you need; in other exams you might need to bring everything. Err on the side of caution and bring a bag with the following things:

  • At least two pens and pencils. Just in case you run out of ink or break the pencil lead mid-exam.

  • A calculator. Unless you know for sure you’re not allowed one, it’s a good idea to have a calculator handy in case you need it.

  • A mathematical drawing set. You know the type: the silvery tin with a protractor, a ruler, compasses, a stencil and some set squares in. The ruler is likely to be the most useful of these things, but again, you never know when the others might come in handy.

Get in the right frame of mind

Feeling nervous or anxious before an exam is completely normal – it’s just a sign that you care about doing well.

Within limits, the adrenaline rush that comes with doing something scary can be helpful – you can come up with some great ideas when you’re under pressure – but you do need to keep it under control so you’re not in a complete panic! Thinking straight is very hard when you’re in full-blown panic mode.

If you find yourself in a bit of a fluster about an exam (or even studying), remember the acronym POPS, which stands for posture, oxygen and positive self-talk:

  • Posture. Have you ever noticed that confident people tend to sit up straight? It’s not just about looking confident, but sitting up straight with good posture actually helps you feel positive and ready for anything, while slouching over the desk can make you feel negative and unsure of yourself.

  • Oxygen. If you find yourself getting nervous or distressed, practise diaphragmatic breathing – breathing slowly and deeply into the bottom of your lungs while counting – to calm you down. This kind of breathing is really good for calming you down and getting oxygen to your brain.

  • Positive self-talk. Brains are funny things: they quite often do what you tell them. If you tell yourself you’re smart and you’re going to rock your exam, it’s much more likely to come true than if you tell yourself something poisonous.

If you’re prone to panic attacks or serious anxiety, see a doctor or a counsellor. The doctor may be able to prescribe exercises or medication to help you overcome anxiety on test day.

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