Sometime we study for exams but not for interest’s sake. In order to be most efficient, all actions should aim at passing tests. Let’s get into the details of how to study for exams and show you some useful test taking tips.
“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” – Alexander Graham Bell
Students always ask: How to study for finals? I think the answer is simple, preparation! You can’t pass any exams without preparation. No pay, no gain. You will learn how to prepare and revise for exams so that you can get the grades you deserve.
The best preparation for a test is to prepare throughout the semester. The preparation includes taking good notes, active listening, completing homework and reviewing regularly. This is especially important if you are students who study in college or high school.
Attend class regularly
Attending class regularly can allow you to hear crucial lectures and take notes for review. Some teachers or professors will deduct points for absences, so skipping class is not a good idea. More importantly, what will be on an exam is usually discussed during classes. If you can’t attend a class because of some reason. Remember to tell your teacher in advance, and borrow notes from your classmates later.
Pay attention in class
Paying attention in class is the key to effective learning, because what the teacher says are the essence of the course. When they say: “The key is…” or “The most important thing is…”, you should pay more attention and take notes.
There is no need to mention the importance of taking notes in class. How to take notes? Fist, keep your notes organized. Label them for course, chapter and date. Second, write down everything your teacher writes on the chalkboard and as much of what your teacher says as possible. Last, don’t let taking notes distract you from listening and thinking. So keep your notes concise.
Do class assignments
Class assignments can help you have a better understanding of the content, and more to the point they may be used for an exam.
Cram for an exam
Sometimes you have to cram for an exam. It’s not a good way, but cramming is better than preparing nothing. How to study for an exam when you only have a little time?
- Step 1, figure out how much information the test will cover and how much time you have before the exam.
- Step 2, designate your time to study textbooks and notes. If you don’t have much time, choose the most important parts to study first.
- Step 3, create a study group to discuss and review the course material with your classmates the night before the test.
- Step 4, review the hardest content right before the exam.
You may need some memory tips.
Set goals before you sit down to revise. According to the time and resource you have, set a target grade for each course. Think carefully about what you should do to achieve them.
Teachers have different methods and formats for exams, so it’s necessary to figure out the range and the format of every exam. Also, ask your teacher how the test will be graded and if there are any extra credit we can get. Don’t be shy!
- Essay exams
- This type of exam will cover a couple of topics, so at first you should find out which topics are important. Then try to answer them comprehensively by using your textbooks, notes or reference books.
- Multiple Choice exams
- Multiple Choice exams require us to have a good understanding of both the overall concepts and the details of the course, and the later is more important.
- Open book exams
- Open book exams don’t mean we can pass them easily, because they more focus on our understanding of the material. Open book exams do test your ability to use information to solve problems. Make sure you’re fully familiar with your study material before exams, then you will feel confident.
The best way to figure out the scope of an exam is asking your teacher or classmates. Most teachers will provide a test outline of what will and will not be covered on the exam, and that is your basic guide.
I asked some top students to share their study tips for exams. They all agreed that the key is to avoid cramming and to make plans.
Cramming can cause anxiety and reduce your ability to learn. Breaking the content into small chunks to learn is much easier than learning it in one sitting, so you should make a plan, the earlier the better.
Make a study plan
Here are some tips I want to add:
- Start preparing early. Give yourself enough time to adequately study courses. Before exams, you will feel relaxed.
- The key to getting a high score is to know everything in textbooks. So don’t miss any details.
- Set priorities. Study the most difficult material first so that you will have more time to review them.
Keep your body and mind in top condition
It is impossible to get a perfect grade without healthy body and mind. You need enough sleep, plenty of water, balanced diet and proper exercise to keep your body function best. Interestingly, some studies show that moderate drinking can actually enhance your grades.
Eat power foods. Super foods can have a major impact on your ability to study and focus effectively.
- Dark chocolate: a central nervous system stimulant, but don’t over-use it.
- Coffee and tea: a small amount of caffeine can keep you awake.
- Fish, olive oil and nuts: are all high in Omega 3s which can boost your brain power.
Meanwhile, study stress and procrastination should also be managed well. Getting some sunlight, watching an interesting video, talking to your friends or anything fun are all conducive to your mental health.
Resting is an important aspect of studying. We are not machine. We need rest and Xbox One! Taking frequent breaks can keep you energetic and focused. Study shows even a brief break can boost your productivity. Try the Pomodoro Technique, take a 5 minutes break every 25 minutes. You can watch a funny video, eat an apple, take your dog out for a walk or do anything you enjoy. Just relax.
Create a conducive study environment
You don’t have to study for finals in the library with uncomfortable clothes. As long as you can focus, why not sit on a cosy sofa? In addition, adequate lighting and free from distractions can’t be ignored.
Take mock tests before actual exams. So we can locate and make up the deficiencies to make our preparation perfect, and by timing ourselves we will feel confident when we appear in real exams.
Use past tests
Collect past exam papers and use them to pre-test yourself. Practice and study until they become easy for you.
Join or assemble a study group to prepare exam. Share notes, information and experience with your classmates. After all, many brains are better than one. You can ask someone specific things you do not understand, and you will also have a better understanding on what you already know by helping others. This is definitely one of the most effective study tips for college students.
The review sessions before each exam must be attended, because teachers will announce something will be covered on exams. Follow the guidance of teachers to review, and write down all key information.
Using flashcards is a good way to memorize information that you feel difficult. For instance, let suppose you always forget who invented the light bulb. You can write on a flash card the question: Who invented the light bulb? Then write Edison on the other side of the card. When you are making flashcards, you will also find some follow-up questions which can promote your progress. There are many sites that allow us to make flashcards online. Carry them with you everywhere and review often, or you can install a flashcard app on your smartphone.
Before sleep and after wake up
Study tough material right before going to bed and after waking. When we are sleeping, the brain strengthens new memories, so it`s a good chance to remember tough information right before bed. In the morning, our mind is clear and more apt to absorb information.
Use different textbooks
You will find different explanations for the same material on different textbooks. That is exactly what your teachers think of when they are setting papers.
Everyone wants to know how to pass exams every time. I think the key is using some proven exam tips.
Be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an exam.
Get enough sleep the day before your exam. If you can’t get to sleep, drink a glass of warm milk. Don’t consume any caffeine within six hours of bedtime.
Eat good breakfast
Eat a well-balanced breakfast on the day of your exam. For example, an egg, cheese and toast, a glass of juice. Instant oatmeal is a great choice too.
Test anxiety will affect your ability to concentrate and earn a good grade.
- Deep breath: Just close your eyes and breathe deeply several times in and out.
- Yoga: The deep breathing and meditation in yoga definitely help to relax. Do some yoga training before exams.
- Get some exercise: Exercise has been proven to reduce test stress. It also helps you sleep better. Get 2 or 3 hours of exercise like jogging, swimming or dancing per week.
- Listen to music: listen to some soft, calming music.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: One study found that omega-3 helped to reduce test anxiety and depression. Fish, nuts and olive oil are high in omega-3.
Drinking a little cup of coffee or tea right before an exam can keep us alert.
Ready for everything
The more test preparation you do, the calmer you will be and the better you will perform.
- Make sure everything you need for the test is ready. Check all the requirements the night before the big day. You’d better bring extra pens or pencils just in case. Remember to take a watch.
- Plan your route and journey time ahead and get to the exam site early. Choose a comfortable seat/chair if you can.
Review that morning
Do a quick review after waking on the morning of the big day. Flip through your flashcards for the last time on the way to the exam site.
Go to the bathroom
You don’t want to waste any time during the test, so go to the bathroom before the bell rings.
Keep it neat
Keep your handwriting neat and legible. Your teacher will be happy to read your answers and give you better grades.
Survey the test before beginning
Look through the whole paper, notice the point value of each section and plan your time for it. Don’t spend too much time on low-mark questions.
Read the questions carefully, twice if necessary
Read questions and instructions carefully. Ask the teacher for help if you are unsure about what the questions mean.
If you get really stuck on a difficult question, don’t waste much time. Skip it, and answer the other questions. You can return to it later.
If you get stressed out and lose your cool, close your eyes and take some deep breaths. Tell yourself you are prepared and there is no reason to worry.
Notice highly similar pairs: Sometimes two options differ by the order of words or a single word. Generally one of them is correct.
Watch out for descriptive words: Words like never, completely, only and always are absolutes. Relative words like usually, seem, may and often are often more accurate.
How to guess? After eliminate the answers that are obviously wrong, you can look for the choices with these features:
- The style of an option is very different from the others’: may be incorrect.
- The grammar of the option is not in agreement with the question stem’s: may be incorrect.
- The option is not in the topic of the question, but comes from some other part of the course: may be incorrect.
- At last, the longest answer: is usually correct.
Look over your work
Leave some time at the end to check and polish your answers. Careless mistakes are common. Good Luck!