How to prepare yourself for an exam - Guidelines

Exams are part of student life. It is a dream of every student to score high in an exam. However, some students do not prepare for an exam in proper lines and end up getting less marks in the exam. Normally, the preparation for an exam starts right from the first day of the academic session. However, there are also certain strategies for preparation which should be adopted during the days of an exam to ensure success in the exam. Successful students consider both these aspects of preparation for an exam: 1) to study well during an academic session with preparation for the exam in mind, and 2) to adopt strategies for best preparation during the days of the exam. This article reflects on these both aspects of preparation for an exam, as follows:

  Make a Plan for studies to manage your time

Planning and time management are factors of success in anything, but it matters a lot when it comes to preparation for an exam. A good study plan keeps students on right track and enables them to achieve their academic goals. It helps them complete their studies in time and not to get stressed during exam. A study plan reflects what to do and what not to do; and what should be done first and what should be done next. Student must make a clear plan for their academic activities which normally start right from the first day of their academic session. This plan should be based on calculation of how much work is required during the academic session to complete studies before the exam. It is a roadmap reflecting on number chapters, lessons, topics according to a schedule. This can be done by calculating the available time (e.g. months, days and weeks) in an academic session and the number courses to be studied in that academic session. It is also very much important that a student must be able to execute his plan and to stick to it.

  Attend your classes regularly and keep studying till the exam – Persistence

Learning through class lectures plays a primary role in success in exam. Always attend your lectures. Teachers provide learning which students generally cannot acquire simply by reading books themselves. When you have attended your lectures, you feel confident about what you have learnt. Therefore, attend your lectures regularly. Similarly, you should continue your self-study on regular basis. Never stop. If you miss lectures or stop your self-study for some days, your studies will become a burden for you, and you will not be able to cover that missed part when you re-continue. This is because you will have a shortage of time as you will have to work on the missed part as well as the new lectures when you re-continue. This will give you psychological stress which may even stop you from continuing again. Particularly, students have to face severe stress when they have to cover a lot of course in the short time of exam. Continued study is important because it saves your time and enables you to complete in time. But the most important benefit of the continued study is also that you have ideas from the last studied topic which helps you learn the next topic easily.

  Make study-notes for preparation for exam

Study-notes are crucial for easy learning and preparation for an exam. Good study notes can be made by collecting important points from your lectures as well as the books when you study them. The act of writing notes itself helps many students in learning the topic with perfection. This is because most students believe that when they write important points while reading a book or listening to a lecture, it automatically strengthens their learning more as compared to simply reading a book or listening to a lecture without writing the points. Apart from this good approach to learning, the notes also serve as a record of important points for future study. It helps in speedy study when you need to revise them in future and prepare them for an exam.

  Revise your courses several times

Revising study course at different times in an academic session is important. It is natural that when we study something and gain learning, this learning fades in our brain with the passage of time. This means that studied topics must be revised at different times during the academic session so that the learning can be retained in the brain for a longer time. This important because students should be able to reproduce, what they have learnt, in their exams. Studying a topic one time is not enough because forgetting, what we have learnt, with the passage of time is natural. Revising helps retain, what we have learnt, in our brain for a longer time.

  Never skip topics or chapters considering them unimportant

All the topics of a book are equally important when it comes to the preparation of an exam. Some students may intentionally skip some topics because they think these topics are not important enough to be asked in exam. This is like taking a risk that may lead to low marks in an exam. However, you should take every topic seriously and prepare it very well for an exam. If you are facing some difficulty in understanding a topic, it is better to take help from a teacher or other books but do prepare them for your exam.

  Practice past-papers or specimen exams

Every exam has past-papers. It is important to read these past-papers because it helps you 1) understand the format of the exam, 2) understand the types of questions asked in the exam. When you have an idea about the format of the exam and the types of questions asked in the exam, you make preparation in proper lines. Understanding the format helps you in completing your exam in time by managing the exam time such as by dividing the total allowed time on the number of questions. However, the most important aspect of the understanding of the nature of questions is that it lets you know which areas are usually touched on in the exam and that how the questions generally approach to asking about these areas such as scenario-based questions, analytical questions, or theoretical questions. Knowing this helps you mould your style of preparation for an exam accordingly.

  Prepare according to the type of questions: MCQs and Long Questions

In addition to the question’s approach to the assessment of a study area, there are three common types of questions: short questions, long explanatory question, and Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs). These three types of questions require preparation in different lines. For instance, for preparing for MCQs, a student should focus on important pieces of information within sentences which are generally asked as MCQs. It is better to take a pencil and underline such sentences which can be asked as MCQs and to prepare them with MCQs in mind. Similarly, the short questions generally focus on definitions and short formulas. For long explanatory questions, the student should focus on main explanatory topics and think how to present them in exam such as by giving headings or sub-headings and conclusion if needed.

  How to prepare in exam days – the game-changer for success in Exam

Preparation in the days of the exam is the game-changer for success in the exam. Some students study very well throughout their academic session, but they become lazy during the days of their exam and end up getting less marks in their exam. On the other hand, some students may have not studied well during their academic session, but they utilize the exam days very well for making preparation and score high in their exam. As mentioned earlier, what we learn we forget with the passage of time and it is quite natural. This means when you revise what you have studied (throughout your academic session) during your exam, you have all the learning in your mind and can easily reproduce it in your exam. Therefore, the students must take the exam period very seriously and should avoid all other activities (e.g., watching movies, listening to music) and should fully utilize that available time to make preparation for the exam.

  Presentation of answers in an exam

If you are attempting a paper-based exam where you have to write your answer in an answer-sheet, it is very much important to understand how to present your answers. You should present your ideas on the paper in a way that can impress the examiner. First, you should generate ideas for the answer (for the asked question); then think about how to present them in a proper sequence; and that if some headings and sub-headings can be used to bring them into a more presentable form. Better also use some colors or highlighters to highlight important information within your answers.