Test Preparation Tips
by: Brooke LaTurno - EIPA 3.8 - NIR Interpreter Coordinator
Professional development is an essential part of working as an interpreter, and testing is an excellent way to demonstrate professional growth. Below are some testing tips that may help as you prepare for a professional test or screening.
These tips are general guidelines, please refer to the specific instructions for any assessment you participate in, to ensure that you abide by their criteria.
Months Before Testing
Give yourself plenty of time to explore informational materials regarding the test such as instructions, FAQ, how to register, cost, cancellation policy, important deadlines, pre-requisites, test format, and the grading rubric.
Make a plan to:
- Register and pay for the test.
- Acquire study materials.
- Create a study calendar.
- Work backwards and schedule weekly times to prepare for the test. Carve out regular study sessions and stick to the schedule. Here is a video by Windell “Wink” Smith to watch when you need motivation.
- Research shows that neural connections associated with learning are strengthened during sleep, so try to space your study sessions over as many days as possible.
- Attend workshops relating to the test. Check with your employer or agency to find out about events in your area or online. The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) can be a good resource for additional opportunities.
Ideas for your study sessions:
- If the test will be performative, record your practice so you can review it later and identify possible areas of improvement.
- Once you feel confident, study in different environments and in the presence of distractions to develop focus.
- Practice with a peer or mentor who has taken the same test before.
- Take a practice test.
- Incorporate elements that might make you anxious on test day, such as a clock counting down or a camera recording you. By exposing yourself to these elements during your study sessions, you will be less intimidated by them during the test.
The Week Before Testing
Prepare all of the items you will need on test day, such as: identification, paper, pen, and snacks (if permitted). Dehydration has been linked to poor memory, decreased energy, and increased anxiety, so make sure you will have plenty of water available at the test site.
The Day Before Testing
- Pack your bag with everything you will need on test day. Make sure your outfit breathes, is comfortable, and does not restrict your movement.
- Go to bed early and get plenty of sleep.
The Morning of Testing
- Eat a brain-healthy breakfast.
- Cultivate a calm mindset.
- Give yourself plenty of time to commute and arrive early at the test site.
Upon Arrival at the Test Site
- Warm up.
- If you experience test anxiety, you may find that breathing exercises or repeating a motivational mantra to yourself can help calm your nerves.
- If it helps you to relax, find an out-of-the-way area to do a few stretches.
During the Test
- Believe in yourself!
- Abide by the rules of the test.
- If you make a mistake, do your best to fix it. If the opportunity passes, be kind to yourself. No one is perfect and mistakes happen.
After the Test
- You did it! Celebrate your accomplishment – you worked hard and achieved your goal!
- As Judy Beldon-Feldman, CSC, NIC-M would say “Remember this is only a snapshot of your skills on this one day.” Your performance during the test does not define you. Test feedback can be helpful to your growth and career, but do not beat yourself up if you are disappointed with the results. There is always some benefit to gain from the experience.
Test taking can be intimidating. If it helps, approach your first time with a test as a trial run. Don’t put pressure on yourself to pass or get high marks. The goal of the first experience can be to familiarize yourself with the format and feel of the test so that in the future you have more knowledge and can accomplish your goals. Give yourself permission to simply do your best.
Best of luck on all your future tests!