Tips for Creating a Productive Testing Environment at Home

Street view of the large Hamersly Library, a three-story building with many windows.

Even though it seems impossible, the end of the term is quickly approaching. With fall term being 95% online, it’s highly likely that you’ll have at least a couple tests to take from home throughout the term. We’ve compiled a few tips and tricks to help create a productive testing environment within your own space. Here’s some guidance. 

Limit distractions

One of the biggest reasons students have trouble focusing on tests is because of the distractions within close proximity. When taking a test, it’s best to put away cell phones (or, at least, keep them on silent and turn off notifications), and turn off TVs, tablets, etc. As well, consider asking those you live with to avoid interrupting you during the test time. If you can, try to be alone in a room when taking tests. 

Reduce the amount of noise surrounding you 

Sometimes we just can’t reduce the amount of auxiliary noise that occurs when taking a test. If you happen to have them handy, noise cancelling headphones work great. However, noise cancelling headphones can be pretty expensive, so it would also work to put on some relaxing instrumental music to lessen the amount of background noise while taking an exam Of course, be sure to check with your professors to ensure that listening to music while testing is allowed. 

Be comfortable, yet structured

The desire to take a test lying in bed in pajamas is strong, but it doesn’t necessarily create the most productive environment. If it works for you, that’s great, but if it doesn’t, you may want to try treating testing from home similar to testing in a classroom. Get up, get dressed, move away from the bed (if possible). Ideally, you’ll want to be somewhere that you can sit for an extended period of time comfortably, but where there’s a little more structure to ensure proper back support. 

Have whatever you need nearby 

Probably the most important tip we can give you is to have everything you’ll need readily accessible. If you’re allowed to use a calculator on the exam, have it nearby; if it’s an open-note test, ensure that all your notes are organized and easy to find. Have water, a snack if you need it, and a paper and pencil/pen to jot down notes or work through problems. Having these supplies close by will prevent you from scrambling to find what you need and wasting that precious test-taking time. 

However you choose to arrange your test-taking space, we wish you all the best with the rest of fall term!

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