How to Study for Exams

Study for Exams

Around 20% of students have exam anxiety, which shows how many of us should prioritize being prepared. 

Studying and preparing for a big test is stressful, though no one knows your subject matter better than you do. Wondering how to study for tests can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. When you study the right way, you can learn and retain the information you need to perform well.

That said, not everyone knows how to study the right way. You can improve your studying habits so you feel more prepared and confident when the time comes to take your test.

This guide gives you some tips on how to study for exams effectively. Keep reading to increase your performance on all kinds of tests. 

Establish a Proper Study Schedule

One of the top exam study tips is creating an ironclad schedule. Create this well in advance, so that you can divide your time properly.

Having a timetable will prevent you from cramming last minute, which will overwhelm and prevent you from absorbing any information.  

Figure Out What Type of Learner You Are

If you haven’t already, decide whether you’re a visual, auditory, or kinaesthetic learner. 

As the name suggests, visual learners absorb by looking whereas auditory learners prefer listening to information. On the flip side, kinaesthetic students learn through movement and models. This includes using gestures to represent words or producing artwork to remember a concept. 

Knowing how you learn will help you create an effective study plan. For instance, if you’re a visual learner, color code your notes, so it’s easier to focus on specific sections. Plus, it’ll stop you from feeling overwhelmed by the chunks of information. 

Make the Most of Class Time 

Make sure you attend every class and pay attention to your teachers. Don’t be afraid to ask a question if you’re struggling because it could be in the exam. It will also encourage you to take extensive notes, which is invaluable. 

You should also ask your teacher about review sessions. Many offer pre-exam reviews where you can discuss key topics and collaborate with other students. 

Know When to Say “No” 

With exams around the corner, it’s important to evaluate your priorities. Sure, hanging out with friends is more fun, but will it help you get into a dream college? 

Although you may feel harsh saying no, be upfront about needing time to study and your loved ones should respect that. Instead of being down, arrange a date post-exams where you can celebrate as it gives you something to look forward to.

Understand the Exam Format and Content

Many students fall into the trap of not knowing the exam format. You don’t want to risk hours of studying, only to realize you’ve researched the wrong topic. To prevent this, refer to your curriculum and ask your teacher for past exam papers, so you know what to expect.  

Use Study Aids 

A sage piece of exam study advice is using aids to your advantage. Many students, for example, love writing their notes on flashcards because you can divide information into smaller, more memorable chunks. Also, you can carry a stack wherever you go for a quick review. 

Saying that, you should also have clear, informative notes. If your current ones are messy or in a singular color, re-write the most important parts and make them more appealing. For instance, write essential dates in red, so that it stands out.

You can even consider taking supplements for studying to boost your concentration. The beauty is that these are often natural, so they’re safe to consume.  

Make Diagrams and Flowcharts

Your notes aren’t complete unless there are diagrams and flowcharts. These visual aids are great for breaking down a topic and making it more digestible. The key is to keep these diagrams to one page so that it’s easier to remember. 

Try Different Memorization Techniques

Break down your notes and apply different memory tricks to help you. For instance, you could turn them into a song, so it’s easier to retain information. 

And once you’re in the exam, write everything you remember about the topic at the beginning to refer back to. This could include important dates or a specific formula. 

Use the “Blank Page Retrieval” Method

Although the name sounds fancy, this is when you hide your notes and scribble everything you remember about a topic. Next, go back to your notes and add any missing information in a different colored pen. Then, repeat. 

Eventually, you should have an in-depth knowledge of that subject. Plus, it’s a great way to review notes closer to the exam date. 

Join a Study Group

Our exam study guide wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the power of collaborating. Reach out to students and arrange a study group where you can test one another. Make sure you choose a place where you won’t get distracted and ensure that everyone is eager to study because you don’t want to waste time.

A bonus is you can teach others what you’ve learned. This is a fantastic way of testing both of you, making it a win-win. 

Study What You Don’t Know 

If you’re confident about a particular subject, you needn’t spend hours on it. Instead, focus on areas where you’re struggling, whether it’s biology or calculus. But, of course, don’t forget to return to your favorite subjects, so that you’re still prepared for the exam. 

Practice on Old Exams

Print out all the past exams and use them as test papers. To get the most of out it, only tackle these when you’re confident about a topic. You should also time yourself when doing it, so you spend the right amount of time on each question.  

Incorporate Breaks Into Your Routine

When studying for exams, it’s important to take regular breaks. Ideally, you should take one every 30 minutes to reset. Although it sounds counter-productive, study breaks help you maintain your energy and focus; otherwise, you may become burnt out

Instead of scrolling during your break, use the time wisely. You could either grab a healthy snack, make a cup of tea, or go for a short walk to recharge. And don’t worry, you needn’t have a long intermission, around 10 minutes will do. 

Eat Well

Eating a nutrient-rich diet is essential when you study for exams. Regardless of how stressed you are, reach out for healthy food, like fresh veggies, fruit, and lean meat. You should also load up on brain food, such as nuts, fish, and, if you want a treat, dark chocolate.

Stay Hydrated

It’s easy to forget to stay hydrated when revising, but it’s crucial. Drinking plenty of water boosts brain function and helps you focus, especially during long study sessions. A good rule of thumb is to drink eight glasses of water at a minimum.

If you’re in a hot climate, crank that number up to prevent dehydration. 

Move Your Body

If you haven’t already, add exercise to your daily routine. Not only will it flood your body with endorphins, but it’ll keep you energized and ward off infections. Even if you’re swamped, carve out 30 minutes a day for light exercise at a minimum.  

Get a Good Night’s Sleep  

When exam season hits, make sure you’re getting enough sleep. You don’t want to spend all night cramming, especially before an exam, because it’ll be harder to produce great answers. Ideally, you should get seven hours every night for optimal health.  

Find a Quiet Place to Study

The key to a productive study session is choosing the right place. Make sure that the area is clean and orderly to prevent getting distracted. 

Don’t try studying when family members are blasting the TV or trying to talk to you because you’ll never get any work done. Instead, choose a quiet place where you can process your thoughts. If that doesn’t sound realistic, head to your local library where you’re guaranteed silence. 

In fact, switching up locations can help your studying. This is because it forces your brain to recollect information in different places, so you’re left with the most important facts. 

Limit Screen Time

Smartphones are useful in some cases, such as checking a fact, but they can easily become a distraction. A great tip is locking your phone away when you’re studying as it creates a barrier that’s harder to mentally break. If you don’t trust yourself, give your smartphone to a loved one for a specific period.

You could also activate “Do Not Disturb” or “Airplane” mode so that you’re not tempted by a notification or phone call. 

Understand Short and Long-Term Memory

A good rule of thumb is learning large concepts early on. This gives you enough time to deep-dive into the topic and fully understand it. Then, when it’s closer to your exams, bring out the past papers and refer to flash cards for a refresher course. 

Be Consistent

Students who thrive in exams understand the importance of consistency. They know that you can’t only study for one day to get great grades. Instead, you must dedicate a specific amount of time to studying every day, even if it’s small.

Over time, you’ll have to put in the hours and surprise yourself with how much you know. 

Stay Motivated  

Studying is a marathon and there will be days when it feels impossible. But don’t worry, this is natural! 

Instead of wallowing, try and stay positive about how far you’ve come. Anytime you’re feeling overwhelmed, reach out to a loved one or go for a walk to clear your head.  

Reward Yourself

You needn’t wait until after exams to reward yourself. This is a great way to stay motivated and positive about studying. For instance, if you’ve had a successful week studying, treat yourself to your favorite treat to boost your mood. 

Avoid Over-Studying for Your Exam 

It is possible to over-prepare for your exam. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself by over-studying the same topic because it could affect your memory. To prevent this, quickly scan subjects where you’re comfortable and move on to a harder area. 

Consider Hiring a Tutor

Most of us aren’t strong in every subject, so hire a tutor if you’re struggling. Ideally, hire a professional who understands your curriculum and has worked with a similar age. You can either ask your teacher for a recommendation or reach out to loved ones, especially if they’re in the same situation.  

Plan Your Exam Day

Before the big day arrives, plan the entire day. Check all the rules and requirements, so that there aren’t any issues. For instance, you may need to arrive 15 minutes before the exam starts. You should also leave your home with plenty of time for delays; otherwise, you’ll end up losing valuable time. 

When you’re in the exam, answer the easiest questions first because it’ll make you feel confident and get you into a rhythm. Don’t panic if you’re stuck on a question, simply move on and return to it later on. 

Don’t Evaluate Post-Examination 

After finishing an exam, you may feel like you’ve written the wrong answer, especially if you’re talking to classmates. But this will only make you feel more anxious and unconfident about the paper. To avoid this, simply prepare for the next exam and move on.  

How to Study for Exams

Hopefully, you now know how to study for exams. 

There are countless ways to make studying easier, such as establishing a strict study schedule and staying motivated. You must also prioritize your physical and mental well-being so that you’re fully prepared for exam day. Good luck!  

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