Become a Tutor and Earn Money Online!

Apply Now

Become a Tutor and Earn Money Online!


Practical Tips to Prepare for an Exam

  • Published On:
exam preparation

Do you have exams coming up and are you determined to do your best? Here are some ways to prepare for them so that you can reach your maximum potential and get through this mentally taxing time. These pre-exam tips will help you pass with flying colors. So what are you waiting for? Let’s dive right in.

1. Make a Timetable

The most important of the pre-exam tips is to make a timetable. If you are able, start preparing for your exam at least one month ahead. This will give you enough time to get over the anxiety and nervousness and make your preparation less taxing and more organized. Create a study schedule that fits your style of studying, and do not leave anything for the last minute. While some students seem to thrive on last-minute studying, most do best with calculated and well-paced preparation. Therefore make a list of how many exams you have, how many pages you need to learn, and the days you have left and organize your studying habits and schedule accordingly. Starting preparation early ensures enough time to plan, memorize, and map out your goals. Remember, you may want to devote additional preparation time to some subjects more than others, so try to achieve a balance by planning earlier for your most challenging exams.

Related Read:

2. Organize your Study Space

Ensure you have sufficient room around your work area to spread out your reading material and notes. Be sure your space has good lighting and is free of noise and distracting activity. Focus. For some students, total quiet is ideal, while for others playing music helps with focus.

3. Use Learning Aids

Visual aids and learning aids such as flow charts, tables, flash cards, and sticky notes can be especially useful when you have to cover a long list of vocabulary and concepts in a short time. Before you begin, write down everything you already know about the subject. Then, closer to the exam, revise your notes using highlighters or new flashcards that contain the terms and concepts that you still need to learn.Then quiz yourself or ask a friend or family member to quiz you.

4. Review Past Exams

If you are able to access past exams from classes, by all means do. An old test will help you see the organization and inquiry plan, and it will be useful for you to envision what may be ahead for you in terms of test taking time and planning. You can ask your teacher or professor if they are willing to share any past tests or study guides with you or check with your college library, older students who have taken the course,or even hunt on the web.

5. Explain Your Answers to Others

With the help of your family and friends, you could excel on your exam. Explaining your reasoning for why you have answered a certain question in a certain way helps to test your knowledge and comprehension of the material. Moreover, explaining or teaching theoretical concepts to your friends also makes you understand your strengths and weaknesses better.

6. Snack and Hydrate Properly

While Burger King and Pizza Hut commercials imply otherwise, don’t snack on unhealthy foods while studying. More importantly, avoid too much sugar or energy drinks. Unhealthy foods can make you drowsy and even lose focus. Therefore, instead of munching on unhealthy snacks, have healthy fruits and nuts on hand to enhance your brain’s capability. Moreover, staying hydrated with water may help you retain information and stay alert, too.

7. Plan the Exam Day

In order to ward off exam anxiety, plan the day of your exam to the minutest detail. Always check the requirements and location for the exam, pre-pack what you can bring in with you (pencils, calculator, timer, snack, water bottle) and lay out what you plan to wear the night before, too. Plan to get to the exam location at least 15 minutes ahead to get yourself settled and comfortable in the environment. Have a quick visit to the bathroom before, too!

We consulted with author and study skills expert Cynthia Muchnick, to answer a few more questions on exam prep:

How can a student best prepare for an exam?

Create a study schedule: begin studying about five to seven days before the examination.

  • Divide up your study time into chunks or stages.
  • Set goals for your exam preparation and try to master concepts or general themes each day in a scaffolded way.
  • Set short-term and long-term goals with your exam preparation.
  • Attend review sessions or meet with the professor or T.A. ahead of time with any questions you may have.
  • Form a study group of like-minded students so you can work together and teach/build off of one another’s academic strengths and understanding of the material.
  • Don’t procrastinate.

How can a student enhance stamina and interest in studying?

  • Use a timer to break up your studying into smaller 15 to 30 minute (or longer if you can) increments.
  • Use a reward system to congratulate yourself on mastering specific goals (walk around the block, social media break, snack break, whatever brings you joy as a reward).

This reward system is particularly helpful if you have to spend long hours studying for an exam or writing a paper. If you worry about how many long hours you have ahead, it will be extremely difficult to motivate yourself to begin. If you divide tasks into several smaller ones and promise yourself a small reward at the completion of each one, it will be much easier to get started. In this way, you will know that when you sit down to work, a reward of some kind is not all that far away.

  • View studying like a sport you are trying to “win” – compete with yourself to do better than you have done before.

How do I maintain stamina for a very long exam?

— Take tiny “micro-breaks” where you have a sip of water, a bite of a snack, a stretch of your neck, arms, ankles, back, and then take deep breaths, too. Even a bathroom break or gulp of fresh air will help you recharge, if you are able to, take one.

If I feel sleepy when I start studying, what can I do?

  • Be sure you study in a well-lit place that is a desk or table free of distractions (not in a comfy place like your couch or bed).
  • Study the harder concepts first when you are fresh, and don’t save the work you like the least for later at night.
  • Vary your study schedule.
  • Be sure the temperature of where you are studying is not too warm. A cool and crisp climate will ensure that you stay alert.

Cindy C. Muchnick, M.A.

Author of The Everything Guide to Study Skills, Straight-A Study Skills, The Everything College Checklist Book

Co-Author of The Parent Compass: Navigating Your Teen’s Wellness and Academic Journey in Today’s Competitive World

8. Plan Study Sessions with Friends

Making studying social can work for some students. You can practice explaining tougher theoretical concepts to your friends. Study sessions with friends can help you get answers to many questions. In group study sessions, make sure that you do not waste time and stay focused on your exam preparation. Studying with friends or fellow students is also a great way to challenge yourself and keep moving forward towards your goal of understanding the material and doing well on the exam.

9. Take Regular Breaks

Generally pre-exam preparation sometimes requires that you study for long hours to ensure maximum productivity. While this deeper commitment works for some, it does not apply to everyone. So, be sure to take short breaks while studying. If you study better at night, take your breaks earlier. And if you are more productive in the morning, start studying first before taking a break during lunchtime, for example.

10. Ask for Help

When you don’t understand, seek help from your teacher, professor, T.A, tutor, classmates, or upperclassmen. Attend office hours, email to schedule a meeting, or even email your question to a professor. And if all else fails, find a peer tutor or hire a tutor to assist you in getting a better mastery and understanding of the material.

Related Read:

11. Get Enough Sleep

Try to get seven hours of sleep before a big test. Keep in mind, tests are intended to test your reasoning capacity. So in the event that you are restless or overly tired, you may not complete a test within the time limit or retain material well.

By following any of the guidelines, tips, and suggestions above, you will enter your exams better prepared and more confident. Good luck on your exams!

Find Top Tutors in Your Area

Find A Tutor

Austin has 10+ years of experience in teaching. He has researched on thousands of students-related topics, issues, and concerns. You will often find him writing about the common concerns of students, their nutrition, and what is beneficial for their academics and health both.