You’ve spent months preparing for the NBCOT® exam and now the test is right around the corner. How do you make sure everything runs smoothly on the day of your exam? Students know that relaxing and getting ample sleep the night before is essential, but they should also consider what not to do. Avoid these common NBCOT® exam day mistakes and you’ll be prepared to excel on test day.
Mistake 1: Trying to review material the morning of your exam
It might be tempting to review practice problems or other content the morning of the NBCOT® exam, but we advise against it. Cramming activates your short-term memory, but is unlikely to improve your performance on the exam. In fact, a last minute study session might trigger feelings of stress and fatigue that negatively impact your results.
If you feel you absolutely need to review material right before the exam because it’s part of your regular routine, be strategic and plan ahead. Prepare a concise, bulleted study guide that includes reminders and facts about content you struggled with while studying and read through it slowly.
To keep yourself from feeling like you need to cram at the last minute, prepare and follow and study timeline in the months leading up to your exam. Slow and steady studying will improve your performance far more than last-minute cramming ever could.
Mistake 2: Waiting until the last minute to leave for your exam
Several of the most common NBCOT® exam day mistakes lead to anxiety, which diminishes exam performance. The easiest way to fall into a spiraling state of nervousness is to wake up late and unprepared the morning of the test. The night before your exam, set your alarm early enough to give yourself time for a leisurely morning routine. Prepare your breakfast and have it ready to go in the fridge. Lay out the clothes you’ll wear alongside your admission materials. Look up the NBCOT® exam testing location in your phone’s maps app, and even try driving or taking public transit to the location a few days before so you know where to park or enter. Carefully planning your morning will give you time to ease into the day and head out the door feeling relaxed and ready.
Mistake 3: Looking at the news, social media, or your phone before the exam
Do your best to minimize mental distractions before your exam. News, social media updates, and text messages from friends can divert your attention and result in negative emotions that could continue to impact you after your test begins.
Put your phone on “do not disturb” or “airplane” mode the night before your exam to avoid waking up to a flurry of notifications or “good luck” messages that might distract you or add unnecessary pressure. Then, rather than checking your phone and responding to messages in the morning, consider reading a novel or getting some light exercise before your exam.
Mistake 4: Failing to pace yourself
Pacing is one of the most difficult elements of the NBCOT® exam. Many students try to speed through questions at the beginning of the exam to make sure they finish before time is up, and in the process, they make avoidable mistakes. Others take far too much time on the first part of the exam or on a handful of difficult questions they can’t figure out, and then find themselves scrambling to finish the test.
Don’t let this happen to you. Taking practice tests will help you get a feel for the time constraints of the NBCOT® exam and the pace at which you should move through each question. On the day of the test itself, try to maintain the same pace that worked for you during your practice sessions, and don’t let your nerves throw you off course. Remember, you don’t need to get every single question right to pass. Don’t let yourself get too hung up on one question that you don’t know how to answer and risk running out of time to get through the test. Flag difficult questions you don’t know the answers to and return to them if you have time left at the end of the exam.
Mistake 5: Comparing yourself to others
Comparing yourself to others is counterproductive. On the day of the NBCOT® exam, suppress any self-deprecating thoughts. Don’t worry about how prepared your peers may be, and instead remind yourself how hard you’ve worked in preparation for this day. Take a moment to write down positive words of self-encouragement or look in the mirror and tell yourself you’re ready. It may sound a bit cheesy, but deliberate positive thinking could give you the extra burst of confidence you need to reach your fullest potential on the NBCOT® exam.
How else can you prepare for the NBCOT® exam?
Avoiding these common NBCOT® exam day mistakes will help you perform your best on the exam. For more guidance on preparing for the NBCOT® exam, check out our NBCOT® exam Prep Courses and Review & Study Guide, or simply contact us. We’re always here to help.