Test preparation means being prepared for test day, come what may. While most preparation occurs in the months, weeks, and last desperate days before an exam, every test taker should endeavor to be ready for whatever might happen on the day when it all counts.
And unexpected, surprising, and sometimes even alarming things can happen during tests. The process of testing can take as much of a toll on a body as it does on a brain. The atmosphere of intense concentration and anxious silence tends to open up nasal passages and magnify the nuisance factor of every little itch, pain, and sniffle. Toss in the fear that the students testing next to you might be carrying COVID-19 (even though they almost certainly are not) and you can understand why your Test Day Checklist must include a well-stocked first aid kit:
Don’t expect to get into your test center without a mask. Make sure your mask is comfortable and breathable over the long-term. We recommend that students sit for at least one full practice test with a mask on the entire time to work through any potential distractions or discomfort. Not matter what other people in your room do, you should keep your mask on until you leave the test site.
You don’t need the CDC to tell you that germs are everywhere, but the organization’s expert guidance that cleaning hands at key times with soap and water or hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs is worth following.
Like the fabled thorn in the lion’s paw, one little headache can tame even the most ferocious tester. Make sure to bring a dose or two of your preferred analgesic.
Cold symptoms like sneezing, sniffling, and coughing may be minor nuisances from a health perspective, but they can be fatal to test scores. Test takers should pre-medicate before an exam, but some emergency meds could be just what the (test) doctor ordered. Just make sure you don’t pack anything that will make you drowsy. For test purposed, DAY=good and NIGHT=bad.
Allergy-induced inflammation of your nasal passages is just as bad for your scores as cold or flu symptoms. Be prepared for a sudden onset of allergy symptoms, especially if you suffer environmental sensitivities. Anyone prone to itchy eyes should also pack eyewash. Again, look out for allergy medication that puts you to sleep!
ADDITIONAL MEDICATION OR HEALTH AIDS
Not every test taker has to deal with asthma, ADHD, or some other chronic issue requiring ongoing or emergency treatment. Those that do should pack anything and everything they are likely to need over an intense four hour period. For example, College Board permits epinephrine auto-injectors–AKA EpiPens–without the need for accommodations or permission. Just pack your special medications in a clear bag that you can keep under your desk during testing.
Tissues may not technically be considered medication, but they are the perfect short-term cure when the sniffles start. Not only do tissues come in handy for those symptoms associated with colds and allergies, but some test takers, sad to say, will need to sop up a tear or two. Many test centers wisely stock tissues, but bring your own or risk wiping your face on your sweatshirt sleeve!
When you’re packing your test essentials the night before a big exam, review this list for the elements that apply to you personally. A small but well-stocked first aid kit will ensure that minor ailments don’t become major distractions on test day.