Adam S. Executive Function Coach and Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you how to study for an exam.

Today, we’re going to talk about how to study for an exam. First of all, because you’ve been using some of the great scheduling and note-taking features we’ve already been talking about, no exam should ever really take you by surprise. You should always have plenty of time to prepare for it. The more challenging material, the more time you should give yourself to prepare for it. Learning and understanding new material takes a few stages.

General Tips

First comes the initial exposure, that’s the first time you read about it or the first time your teacher mentions it in class, though there’s time to work with the material. You actively engage your brain and start to settle into your working memory. Then there’s time to sleep, time for the material to make its way into your long-term memory, and then, finally, time to review. So, as you can see, this takes a few stages. The big good point that I’m trying to make here is that most of what you can do to really be ready for an exam takes place way before the exam ever happens.

Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts. The best things you can do to be ready for a test are pretty straightforward. Go to class, take good notes, do all your homework, and review those notes. If you do those thoroughly and diligently, you’ll be in good shape for any exam you have.

Specific Tips

Now, assuming that you have been diligent about your schoolwork up to this point, there are a couple of specific steps you can take to get ready for that big test.

1. Scheduling

So, the first thing to consider is scheduling. You want a backwards plan from the date of the exam. Usually, each section of material is going to be tested and lends itself to being broken up into chunks, you know, either chapters or units, some kind of section. Break up how many chapters or units you have between now and the test. Pug it into different days that you’re going to be studying on. Always leave yourself a couple of days at the end to review everything in total. You also want extra time because, remember, you don’t want to cram. It takes a good night’s sleep for stuff to stick its way into your brain.

2. Team up

Teaming up can be a really useful strategy. Make study groups with your friends, assuming you guys actually study. It can be really helpful to take turns teaching each other the material. A lot of times when we explain something as someone else is when we really take it in and start to understand it more thoroughly.

3. Ask for help

Remember when we backward planned and made our schedule with ourselves a couple of days before the test? This gives you ample time to go to your teacher for clarification on anything you don’t understand. You shouldn’t have any answer questions heading into the test.

4. Take good care of your body

Make sure you get a good night’s sleep before the test. Don’t cram, and make sure you have breakfast before the test that morning so your brain has the energy to work.

So those are the basics of exam prep. Remember, most of what you can do comes away before the exam. It’s really important that you go to class, take good notes and do your homework. Then, when the exam time comes, make a schedule backwards plan and leave yourself enough time that you’re not stuck cramming. Gather all your materials together, reach out to friends to make study groups, ask for help, and take care of your body.

You’ll be in great shape for your next test.

Are you preparing for your exams? Which of exam tips did you find most helpful?

Post your tips/comments below.

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