How to Study for an Exam


An exam measures how much you have learned about a particular subject and how well you can apply that knowledge. Exam formats vary; some are objective, including multiple choice and true/false, and some are subjective, such as essay and short answer. Some people can cram for a test at the last minute and still do well, but most people need to employ systematic techniques to effectively prepare for an exam.

  • Write notes during every class session. When you get home, organize your notes so they are legible. Look at the notes of two other students to see if you missed anything.

  • Review your textbook or the reference material that is included on the test. Often, instructors will tell you the subject areas that will be covered on the exam. Write down those test areas and include them with your regular class notes.

  • Ask your teacher to help you with any topics or concepts you don't understand. Focus on your weak ares when reading your textbook and reference materials.

  • Form or join a study group. This gives you the chance to learn with other students who are strong in areas where you are weak, and vice versa.

  • Set time aside for studying every day. Black out plenty of time in the days or weeks prior to the test to ensure you have enough time to study all of the material without feeling rushed. Depending on the difficulty of the test, you may need one to two hours per day to focus exclusively on the upcoming exam.

  • Make a crib sheet (a cheat sheet) that lists all of the tests subject areas and major concepts on one page. Occasionally quiz yourself on various parts of the crib sheet to see how well you know the material. Recite the concepts and theories so you truly know the material and can demonstrate your knowledge in any format, such as multiple choice, essay, fill-in-the-blank and others. Take the crib sheet with you when you are away from home so you can refer to it when you have spare time.

  • Take several practice tests to gauge your knowledge of the subject matter. Concentrate on areas where you are struggling. Review those areas and test yourself until you are confident in your answers.

Tips & Warnings

  • Avoid studying too much. Take a break from studying if you are comfortable taking the practice test and you know all the information on the crib sheet. Review the material once more before the test.

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