How to Painlessly Prepare for an Exam
One major tip when preparing for an exam is to be physically prepared for the test. This means getting a good nights’ sleep the night before the exam, drinking plenty of non-caffeinated drinks (such as water) before and during the exam, and eating a good meal (breakfast or lunch, depending on the time of the exam) before the exam. If you are hungry, thirsty, or tired during the exam, you will be distracted. Being distracted will lead to a lower exam grade no matter how much you studied before the exam or how well you know the material.
While we’re on the subject of how much you studied before the exam, cramming really is not the best way to prepare for a test. You should start at the very beginning of your class and review the material after each class period. This slower and less stressful study method will let you retain more of the material. If you absorb and retain more of the information, your test grades will be higher. You will also retain more of the information for the next test; if you cram for a test, you are likely to forget most of what you studied the minute the test is over.
Not cramming doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t study the night before a major exam. Reviewing the material for an hour or so the night before can help assure you that you understand the concepts.
Be sure to have all your study materials at hand before you begin studying. It’s distracting and negatively impacts your retention of the information if you repeatedly have to stop studying to go look for a textbook, notebook, software, pen, pencil, calculator, or any other tools you might need.
One excellent way to study for a test is the use of flash cards or 3 x 5 cards. No matter which type of cards you choose, you have a portable way to study that you can take along to a doctors’ appointment or other obligation.
A secondary benefit of using the handmade 3 x 5 cards is that presumably you wrote them out yourself. You’ve retained at least some of the information on those cards simply because of writing them out in the first place; when you use the 3 x 5 cards to study you are reinforcing the lessons you’ve already learned as well as building on them.