As the students get into the testing mode again I see the deep thinking in their heads about all of the things they are concerned about. It is an interesting change of focus. The funny thing is for the last few months the students have already been preparing themselves. The ones that have been training consistently and focused really do not need to change their focus. However, these students are sometimes the people who stress themselves out the most. Not always but over the years this is the case most of the time.
First, we must work to keep relaxed and enjoy the practice. The best practices are where there is a lot of energy and people are focused but having a lot of fun (ok maybe a little hard work). The class is over before we know it and everyone has a smile on their face. Now that we are relaxed and training with focus how do we prepare for the up-coming testing? Other than just coming to class and working hard you really need to know what is going to be tested. There are a lot of difficult or subjective things on the test like focus, zanshin, cleanness of techniques, etc. However, usually there also is a list of techniques and movements that you need to know and demonstrate for the instructors. Read the list, memorize the list (for your level and below), and go over the techniques in your head when you are not on the mat.
You don’t have to do this a lot, but if you have a little spare time it is always good to think about a technique when you are off the mat. Imagine the attacker coming in and you moving off the line. Can you feel their hand/arm? How do you turn your body? Do you have zanshin throughout the technique? This is a exercise that high level athletes (Olympics, etc) use to prepare their mind for perfecting their body and mind. Try it. You might find that it helps you work out some problem spots on techniques that you currently are working on, or need to know for the next test.
Another good idea is to look for a mentor or Sempai in your dojo. 98% of the time these people are approachable and willing to help you out when you have some free time. Some dojos have open practice time and let you work through the “trouble spots” on your techniques. Use this wisely. I visited a dojo a while back and the teacher said you guys have some time to practice your techniques. One or two of the 15 students wandered out and practiced. The teacher also offered help to anyone who asked, and no one took him up on his offer. When I was practicing I would have thrown all the students out of the way to get that opportunity =).
Take the opportunities to train and prepare for your test as they come about. These opportunities are all around you. You may just not be looking!