To improve your test taking skills you must begin with working on your mindset. To start, consider your learning through the year as preparation for the exam. Most students fail because they can’t make the connection between their daily homework, assignments and exams due to the long period of the course.
Shift your perspective and view all your academic work during the school year, semester, or summer as studying for the exam. The best way to get higher grades is to view your studying as small milestones leading to the exam as the biggest goal.
The following test-taking tips will greatly increase your test scores. These strategies will help you improve your studying skills by using the best tools for reviewing and keeping your motivation high throughout the year. If you apply them you’ll master the subject and ensure exam success.
Keep the Big Picture in Front of You
Review the course from start to finish or from the start of the unit to the end of the unit if preparing for a unit exam. Identify the hardest parts that will require more attention. Understanding the course overview will help you to understand its main topics and how they are scored. Once you’ve come up with your plan, put it on paper.
This plan will help motivate you and propel you to get higher marks. It’s easier to prepare when you know what you want and have a plan to show you how you’ll get it. Make it as detailed (and realistic) as possible.
Learn to Manage your Time
Time management is a wonderful tool you can use to help your study workload, get more done, and reduce stress. It’s the best way to get time on your side, instead of letting time slip through your fingers.
If you can control your time, you’ve won half the battle. Use a study planner so you can review your studying time on weekly and monthly basis. You can also use your study planner to keep track of assignment due dates, observe important quiz/test dates, and manage your studying time better.
Keep a daily study journal to know how you spend your time studying. It will provide helpful insights you can use to better allocate your time for more productive study time. Try journaling your other activities throughout the day so you can learn about the time-consuming habits to cut them out and replace them with positive habits that enforce your goal to get higher grades. On a deeper level, managing your time will help you control the time you spend with your friends and other social commitments you have during exam times.
Following the above will allow you can focus on your study without losing your mind over other responsibilities you have. Instead of making social commitments around your study time, make study time the priority and schedule your other activities around it. Make it your job to get higher grades.
Know Your Learning Style
Your learning style is a crucial element in your test-taking strategy. Learning styles are based on your five senses and how you best learn new information. You are either a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner. Each type has a learning mode that is most rewarding. Take this assessment by educationplaner.org to identify your learning style.
Combined with your time management skills, your learning style will help you study smart, not hard. Your learning style is unique to you, so don’t try to copy other successful students’ styles! Tailoring your study method based on your learning style will certainly lead to better academic performance.
Keep the Small Picture in Front of You
Your exam success will rest on balancing between your big goal and the details that will lead to it. The small details include allocating enough time for each topic and assessing the amount of time you’ll need to dedicate to your study outside the class. Always keep a step ahead with a detailed study schedule.
Never Skip Reading
Especially for college or university students, doing preparatory reading will help you absorb new information like a sponge. Make sure you do the required reading before the class. This will make the lecture more fun and easy to understand.
Take and Organize Notes
Use apps like Evernote to take notes. Notes are most useful while you’re studying, they contain nuggets of information that will help fill in the gaps when you lose concentration. By taking notes you keep your mind engaged during the lecture and later, it’ll be helpful when you’re studying from the textbooks.
Go to Class
Don’t rely on your friend’s notes. Go yourself, and get involved! Become an active learner. Do whatever it takes to get engaged in the study material. Attending classes whenever you can helps you remember the information and when you take notes, it’ll help you focus on the lecture and prevent your mind from going off task.
Make Use of Mind Mapping
Mind mapping is a tool to visualize key ideas and concepts in graphics. Use a mind mapping app such as XMind to create your mind maps. A mind map can help you pinpoint important information from lectures and study material. You can summarize a complicated topic on one page that will make the connection between various concepts and cement the information in your long-term memory.
Prime Your Mind
Priming is a psychological phenomenon. It’s a subtle technique you can use to influence your studying behavior and make your subconscious mind work for you instead of working against you. It’s much like a self-fulfilling prophecy. In essence, your mind makes connections between things to make it easier to remember. Neurons that fire together, wire together. It “clusters” your memories together for better recall. That’s why when you’re asked not to think of a pink elephant, you not only do think of a pink elephant, but you imagine it in different scenarios. And maybe you’ll see a pink elephant in a TV commercial the next day.
To put priming into action, immerse your mind in your study life. Make a lifestyle out of it. Create an environment that constantly reminds you of your study work. Hang study posters in your room, write study notes on mirrors and stick notes on your doors. That way you influence your mind to recall the information. Your mind picks up these “signals” and makes connections on its own, outside of your awareness. Try to mix in your mind maps to improve your recalling.
Concentrate When You Study
Concentration is the secret. One hour of concentration while studying is better than 10 hours of distracted study. Top performers around the world in every field are those who are single-minded, focusing on a single task for a given amount of time. If you take one tip from this article, make it the secret of concentration. This alone will get you ahead of 97% of other students and you’ll achieve better results in less time. So, turn off your cell phone notifications and concentrate on one task at a time.
Train Your Memory Muscle
Your memory is like a mental muscle. It improves if you train it, and atrophies if you don’t. One of the best memory-improving techniques is the mnemonic device. Take the time to master it as it’ll greatly improve your academic performance. Furthermore, understand how your memory works, and find more techniques to improve it.
The best way to wrap up this article is with a bonus tip for students. If you can dig up previous exams from past years or find exams you can study, it’ll be great. This will not only help you prepare for the real exam, but it will also teach you what to expect. You’d learn about the questions, the style, and the format of the exam. Studying past exams will enhance your academic confidence and the more you solve them, the less the real exam will intimidate you.
Always remember that the difference between an A+ student and the F student is in the preparation. As inventor Alexander Graham Bell once said: Before anything else, preparation is the key to success. So, before you go to an exam, make sure you’re prepared. Now, you are ready. Good luck!