How to Stay Focused and Positive During the EMT Exam

By Arthur Hsieh

While you’re actually taking the EMT exam, you need to stay focused and positive. It’s okay to feel nervous, a little scared even. But those testing jitters should go away as you chip away at each question. After all, you have prepared yourself well for this moment. Following are some tips to help you keep your cool and do your best when you’re taking the exam.

Answer one question at a time

Each question is presented by itself during the exam. Once you submit your answer to a question, you can’t look at it again. Therefore, take each question as it comes. Consider what the question stem is asking and see whether you can answer it without looking at the responses.

If you feel that you have a solid answer, check it against the responses provided. If none of them match up precisely, reread the stem to see whether you may have missed or misinterpreted part of it. Read all the responses, keeping in mind that just because a response is right doesn’t mean it’s best.

Try not to guess — the odds of choosing the best answer are against you. Silently reread the question and each response together. Choose the sentence that sounds most correct. If you have absolutely no clue what the answer is, choose one and move on to the next question.

If later in the exam you see a question that’s related to a previous question and you realize you may have answered the earlier question incorrectly, don’t panic. It serves no purpose other than to distract you from answering the question that’s in front of you right now. Forget about the previous question and go about answering the current one.

If you feel the stress building within you, stop for a moment; close your eyes; and take a slow, deep breath. The questions are designed to feel difficult. So be in the moment during the exam. It’s just you and the test question in front of you. Understand what is being asked, consider the responses, choose your best answer, and move on to the next question.

Maintain a positive attitude

Any successful person will tell you that having a positive attitude plays a large part in that success. Sports players spend time making mental images about winning. Special military units like the SEALS go out on missions with the assumption that they will achieve the goal. Likewise, if you have practiced and studied with diligence, you should believe that you will be successful, even if you weren’t on previous attempts.

The worst thing you can do to yourself during the exam is to lose confidence. If you aren’t sure what the question is asking or none of the answers seems to apply, step back for a moment. Use all of your test-taking strategies to reason out the best answer. And remember — you don’t need to get every question correct in order to pass the exam.

When the computer screen shuts off, you’re done — figuratively and literally. When you leave the testing center, relax. Take some time for yourself and feel good. You just took an exam that is challenging, and passing it really means you’ve proven that you have the education to perform the job.