Having a properly designed study plan for tests is essential to do well in classes. Almost everyone comes to college thinking they already have the proper tools to study well. Then after the first round of tests, they realize how much more they need to do to prepare for tests.
Studying for a test is a very important part to earning good grades. Studying for a test will maximize your grade in a class since tests typically make up a significant percentage of your final grade.
There are things that you need to do while studying for a test:
- Gather all of your note cards and study material that you have made for the test. Also gather all of your classwork, homework and notes for the test.
- If you are given a study guide, use all of your materials to complete the study guide. Place study guide questions on flash cards that you can continuously use to test yourself.
- If you are not given a study guide, create your own ahead of time so that it is available to you prior to the test date. See topic: Anticipating Test Questions
- When you are making a study guide, add all of the following:
- Worked out problems
- Key concepts
- Key Terms
- Anything that the teacher stressed in lectures
- In your study guides, put a star or some other marking next to all of the important problems that you need help on. Also, if there is an important step put a star or other marking on that step. Practice the steps with stars or other markings more frequently than the other steps. They will be the ones that will need the most practice.
- When you work out problems on your study guide, make sure that your steps are organized and put a box around your answers. This is also how you should show your work on the test. This process will keep you from making silly mistakes.
- To help memorize information needed for a test, you can take a dry erase marker and write the material on your bathroom mirror. These will help you remember material because it is one place you look every day. Look at the material while getting ready for classes or brushing your teeth.
You should begin to study a week prior to your test. Each night, you should review and study for at least an hour. Then on the night before your test you should study for about two to four hours. This will increase your long-term memory, and you will also be able to recall a lot of information because you did not cram all of your information in on one night. Also any time you have even a few minutes of free time, you should look over your study guide (e.g. waiting in line for a bus or waiting for a class to start.)
Mnemonics are also another thing that can help you study for a test. This is a learning device used to remember information easier. For example, if you had a test and needed to remember the colors of the rainbow the mnemonic would be “ROY G BIV.” This sounds like a name of a person and it is using the first letter of each color to come up with the mnemonic. The colors would be Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. Mnemonics are very helpful for remembering information and putting it into a method that will stick in your memory. (See the topics: Developing Long Term Memory and Using Memory Tools)
Researchers have found that cramming and studying material 24 hours prior to taking a test does not help as much as frequent studying. It was shown that the human mind does not remember most material that is learned or reviewed within the 24 hours prior to tests, so studying more a few days prior and reviewing a bit the day before the test may help.
Finally, the night before the test make sure you get enough sleep. Make sure that you eat a healthy breakfast the morning of the test. Good food is brainpower. You need to stay focused on the test and be relaxed. Going to sleep at a reasonable hour is the most important thing for being prepared for a test. When you go through your REM stage of sleep you are going over everything you have learned for that day. Studying in advance helps you retain more information about an upcoming test which will make studying seem much easier for you. When you arrive at the test location, make sure you do not do a lot of talking to other classmates.
Here’s a useful checklist to prepare for a test:
- Developed a study guide
- Put key information on flashcards for self-testing
- Reviewed material for one week in advance of the test
- Reviewed material intensively the night before the test
- Had a good night’s sleep (at least 7 hours)
- Ate breakfast