How to Prepare for a Test

Follow these tips to maximize your changes of success on exams

Does the thought of an upcoming test make you nervous? Do you drag your feet when it comes to preparing to take one? If so, you’re not alone. However, there are strategies that can help you feel confident in the days and weeks leading up to the next time you take a test.  Here are a few you might want to try out:

Use your class notes creatively

It’s important to take good notes during a class lecture, so you can reference them later on when getting ready for a test. Instead of just reading over or memorizing your notes to study, try one of these strategies to help you retain the information more easily:

  • Re-writing your notes may help you understand the material better and help you retain important facts.
  • Reading your notes out loud can also help with understanding and memorization. (If you live with other people, maybe warn them you’re doing this, so they don’t think you’re talking to yourself! Or, if they want to help, maybe ask them to listen. They can then ask you questions to quiz your knowledge of the test material.)

Join or form a study group

Studying with a small group of classmates is a great way to find new ways to understand the material. You can create study games for the group to play, do Q&A sessions, and share favorite study tips. Making things more social can help to make studying more fun, and you might be more motivated to meet up with people, rather than just having to force yourself to sit down to another session with just you, your notes, and books.

Ask for help

If you’re having trouble understanding any of the material that you know will be on test, ask for help. Instructors often have office hours, which are time they set aside to talk with you, answer questions, and review material. You also should feel free to email your instructor with questions. Explain how you’re feeling about the material and that you need more explanation. This will also show that you’re taking positive steps in your own learning process. Being proactive before a test is a much better strategy than trying to play catch-up after you have already received a bad test grade.

If you’re still struggling, look into whether your school has tutors available to help you. Sometimes, a few sessions with someone who can offer guided assistance and practical tools can set you on the right track to develop your own test-taking plan.

Space out your study sessions

Begin reviewing for the test a week in advance. Take 10 or 15 minutes each day to review notes, re-read a chapter, or make study tools like flashcards. If you wait until the day or two before the test, you will add unnecessary stress as you try to cram all the information into a short period of time. This advance planning also allows you time to check in with your instructor if you need assistance with any of the material.

Take time for a break

To stay fresh and alert, it’s a good idea to take small breaks during a study session. Walk away from your study area, stretch, drink some water or eat a small snack, like a handful of almonds or pretzels. Get outside for some fresh air and take some deep breaths. You’ll feel refreshed before you go back at it.

Once you find what strategies work, you’ll be on your way to success with each test you take! Over time you might even find that your anxiety levels go down, too. Good luck!

This post is part of the weekly blog of the Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health, located in Manchester, NH. We’re dedicated to supporting all our students in striving for success. Visit us online to learn more, or reach out to us to schedule a campus tour!

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