How to take tests under pressure? Faulty recall under pressure?

Does anyone have any advice how to recall information better under the pressure of a test?

One of the reasons that I don’t do well on tests (and have done mediocre in my post-bacc courses) is that, besides being a slow reader, I have faulty recall under pressure, recalling incorrect information or, more often, misspelling or misconstruing information. Once the test is over, I can usually remember the information without any problems. Any ideas?

I’ve tried everything so far suggested with no

Sometimes drawing a picture to piece together the information can aid recall, if it is something that can be done in that way.

To memorize the common Gram + bacteria for one test (strep, staph, bacillus, listeria, clostridrium, coccidiobacillus, enterobacter) I drew a picture of a ship (the S. S. Lister) at a dock with a monk carrying a basil plant and a ferris wheel in the background. Story - monk is entering his basil plant in the state fair and is cocky that it will win.

S. S. Lister (staph, strep, listeria) enters (enterobacter) cocky (coccidiobacillus), cloistered (clostridium) basil (bacillus).

I don’t know - it works for me.

My friend was studying red flags for headache (signs it might be something serious). Drew a guy with a chunk out of his head (history of trauma, localized headache), with a clock dial on his face (timing - sudden new onset, change in frequency), swirly eyes (visual changes),a thermometer in his mouth (fever), a brick “collar” around his neck (stiff neck), 3 flowers growing out of his shoulder (a change in nature --(of the headache)), wearing a short dress (change in personality or neurological symptoms). Glad he showed it to me - helped me on the test!


Now that’s a good idea. I’ll try that.

Kate, I was going to say the exact same thing, but I LOVE your picture “stories” even better than mine.

For organic this semester, we had a ton of information thrown at us at the very end (as in 4 chapters in one night), and I thought there was no way to sift through it all… but I found that associating some kind of random tidbit with the fact I am remembering just makes it easier. What makes ME remember it won’t be what makes YOU remember it (much of the time), so each person really has to come up with their own stories, pictures, etc…

So tie all that info to something that YOU will remember. Sometimes it’s elaborate, like Kate’s drawings…sometimes it’s one small sentence.

Example: I couldn’t, for some reason, remember which poisoned catalyst stopped catalytic hydrogenation of an alkyne at the cis alkene phase (Lindlar’s catalyst) and which one stopped it at the trans phase (dissolving metal reduction). Something simple, but given the volume of info I was studying, it kept tripping me up for some reason. Then, I started thinking about Lindlar, the person, having a cyst. Never forgot it again. I have NO idea why, but it’s firmly and eternally cemented in my brain now. Lindlar has a cyst. It was that simple.

**Also, try not to memorize as much as possible. If you can understand how you got to the answer, instead of just what the answer is, you will have universally more success. Seems obvious, but that jumps up and bites me once in awhile.

Good luck!!

IF there are homework problems that are related to your subject, do them OVER AND OVER. That gives you practice remembering the concept, calling it up when it’s needed, and using it. You need to do all three things on a test.