Exam Preparation

Proven strategies to help you ace your next test

All the joy of learning and attending school can fly out the window if you don’t perform well on your exams. If you can’t perform at your best on test day, then you may be wasting your time and money trying to get a degree. Studies show that the majority of students, even those who get top grades, could benefit from more effective study habits. If you count yourself in that majority, you've come to the right place.

General Tips

Exam preparation isn’t an exact science, but there are some things that you can do to help maximize your chances of getting the grade you want. Most students take these tips for granted, but they can mean the difference between passing and failing a test:

  • Take care of yourself. Studying for an exam can really fry your nerves. Try to stay relaxed. If you start to feel anxiety taking over, do some stretching and deep breathing. You need your rest, so don’t stay up all night cramming. Even if you can’t sleep, get in bed and try to rest. Stay away from caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, hot chocolate, cola and energy drinks (especially on test day). They might make you feel alert and awake, but they stimulate your brain in a way that hinders your ability to concentrate.
  • Study hard and study smart. First, it’s vital to select a good study place. It can be your office, bedroom, basement or garage even. As long as it has the few key characteristics that all great study places share, it’ll work. Next, you’ll want to establish some good study habits. Studying is all about developing the right attitude. If you seek out excuses for why you might fail, you probably will fail. On the other hand, if you think of exams as an opportunity to prove to yourself how much you’ve learned over the past semester, you’re much more likely to succeed.
  • Know the format inside and out. There are big differences between multiple choice exams and essay exams, so it’s important to prepare accordingly.
  • Repeat positive messages. Remind yourself of your goal for the test and think about how you’re going to achieve it. If you believe that you’ll succeed, you’re more likely to do so.
  • Show up. This should be obvious, but it’s vital that you arrive on time to write your exam. And make sure you’re in the right room.
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