What to Take to a College Exam

Taking a test in college is unlike any other testing experience. Your professor or TA might closely watch everyone, or he or she might leave the room and expect everyone to act as the adults you are. Either way, knowing what to take to a college test — and what to leave at home — is important for making sure things run as smoothly as possible when it’s go time.

What to Take with You to a Test in College

1. Your computer and/or blue books.

The means of getting down your answers — and turning them in — should be the first thing in your bag.

2. Tools of the trade.

Will you need pens? Pencils? A calculator? An e-reader? Chewing gum to help you concentrate and alleviate stress? Make sure every small tool of the trade that you’ll need is in your bag and ready to go.

3. Books and notes, if allowed.

Open-book and open-notes tests can sometimes be harder than regular tests because you are tempted to always refer to your materials. The absolute worst, however, is being allowed access to these resources but forgetting to bring them in the first place.

4. Snacks and water.

Your brain and body need food and energy to function, so why deprive them of the essentials during such an important time? Note: make sure what you bring is quiet and won’t disturb other test-takers. No one wants to listen to you open your bag of chips during hour 2 of the exam; try a banana or bag of cut-up fruit instead.

5. Some type of time-keeping device other than your cell phone.

Chances are that you won’t be allowed to use — or even check — your cell phone during the test.

Consequently, make sure you have another way of keeping track of your time so you don’t get stuck with 25% left of the test to do during the last 5 minutes.

6. Back-ups of the essentials.

What happens if you computer battery dies? You don’t get a seat by a plug? You spill water on your blue book? Your pen runs out of ink? Have back-ups for the things that matter most. At worst, you can just use them on your next exam; at best, they’ll save the day.

What to Leave Behind

1. Your cell phone.

Not supposed to have a cell phone with you? Then leave it at home. Period. You may know you’re not going to use it, but your clueless friend who forgot you were taking a test might call right in the middle of the exam — leading you to a lot of trouble that could have been avoided.

2. Anything that could be considered cheating.

You rummage in your bag for an extra pen. Your professor sees you and gets suspicious, and then sees the notes you were using to study before the exam poking out of your backpack. Leave anything that could get you into trouble at home before entering the testing room.

3. A music player.

You may study to music and focus better with some background tunes. Your professor, however, may wonder if you are listening to his lecture notes. Leave the iPods/iPhones/mp3 players and earbuds at home.

4. Anything electronic that you’re not supposed to use.

Have an iPad that you love that has nothing to do with your test? Great. Leave it at home so your professor or TA doesn’t get suspicious about what it’s doing in your backpack during the exam.