Final exams and semester-end papers are among the most challenging phases in a student’s life. It’s a stressful time as it puts a lot of pressure on them to retain all the information studied in the past few months and perform well. While studying and preparing for your exam is vital, you must know how to best manage the preparation time before the paper. Instead of focusing on how long you’ve studied, concentrate on the content and how much you’ve learned.
However, every student is unique and has varying strengths and limitations regarding exam prep. While some may be good at cramming information a night before, others may need time to soak in all the class lessons. But with a little bit of experimenting and exploring new strategies, you can identify which approach works best for you.
So if you too have a tough exam you’re not sure how to prepare for—don’t worry. Follow these seven best-kept secrets and watch how easily you can achieve your desired score.
Start your preparation early
The best thing you can do to prepare for a difficult exam is to get a head start on your preparation. This is particularly essential for medical and accounting students since there are mounts of information to cover and not much time if everything’s delayed.
Starting the prep early will give you plenty of time to review everything in the end and revisit any confusions you may have. This way, you won’t have to leave anything for the last minute and can clearly understand all the course content. Besides extra revision time, you’ll also have ample chances to solve practice questions like those offered by Wiley CPA for accounting exams.
Focus on understanding concepts
Another effective strategy you can implement while studying for an exam is understanding core concepts rather than just rote-learning the answers. You’ll more than likely cover a lot of material over the year, and it can become tough to remember everything for the test. But once you understand all theories and notions, you’ll be able to perform better as it allows you to answer questions in your own words, the way you learned them.
Memorizing the material is about coming up with ways to remember and repeat facts. However, concept understanding goes a lot deeper as it lets you apply what you’ve studied to various scenarios—often given in exams.
Organize your time
Like most other students, you’ll undoubtedly find some subjects more effortless than others. On the other hand, other topics will require you to allocate extra time for revision and preparation. Therefore, before you start studying, you must plan how much time you can assign each subject by considering which one you need to pay the most attention to.
You may also find it helpful to consider how long and when you plan to study each day. Make sure to factor in your other commitments and responsibilities to keep them from interfering with your study schedule. Also, ensure your revision time aligns with the time of the day that works best for you. Identify if you’re more productive in the morning, afternoon, or evening and if you can squeeze in some extra reading at particular times.
Vary your revision strategies
Most students’ biggest mistake while studying for an exam is takingup a particular revision strategy and rigidly sticking to it. Repeatedly reading over your notes can become real tedious, real fast. But, as they say, variety is the spice of life.
Changing your study approach now and then helps refresh your mind and keeps you from getting dulled out. By alternating between a couple of learning tactics, you’ll be able to grasp concepts much more quickly and retain the information for a lot longer. Some strategies you can try are doing practice questions, drawing mind maps, or studying in a group.
Use flow charts and diagrams
Visual aids can be highly beneficial for revising the study material. At the beginning of your exam preparation, make detailed notes of everything you know about each topic. Once your revision time gets near, try to compress all these notes to a one-page diagram or flow chart to keep track of core concepts and theories.
When you’re taking your exam, it’ll be much easier to recall these images and make it easier to solve questions.
Plan study groups
Students have the benefit of collaborating and studying with their classmates and friends. Since they all have to revise the same material and prepare for the same exam, it’s often helpful to share concepts and compare notes. A study group is full of unique perceptions and strengths from every student, making it an effective strategy to clear misconceptions of each other. You can also quiz one another to better prepare for your upcoming exam.
Take regular breaks
The most important and unfortunately often overlooked way to effectively prepare for your exam is to take frequent breaks. Cramming lessons won’t help you and make you even more stressed, keeping you from performing well on the test. But giving your mind and body a chance to refresh can help you approach the study material with renewed energy and focus. So, now and again, stand up, stretch your legs, get some fresh air before continuing with your preparation.
Although there are plenty of tips and tricks that can help you prepare for a difficult exam, you must identify the approaches that work best for you. A better understanding of your effective study strategies is the key to a successful career—both as a student and a professional.
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