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Making the Grade: Tips to Get Ready for a Big Test

Try this advice to improve your study skills

Do you get nervous before your exams? Do you worry that you haven’t prepared well enough? If you answered yes, then it’s important to find study techniques that work for you. If you are in career school, vocational school, or college, you may want to try out the study tips below. These techniques are designed to help you with concentration, comprehension, and memorization. With these tips, you should feel prepared and ready on test day.

1. Don’t throw your homework away—use it as a study tool!
Remember all the homework that you’ve had over the past few weeks? Teachers assign homework to help you get more comfortable with the course material. Homework can be a great tool for studying. Look at your homework again and make sure you understand all of the concepts. There’s a good chance that much of the same material will be on the test. Concentrate on the answers you got wrong—these are areas where you need to study harder.

2. Make sure you study the right material
Have you ever spent hours studying, only to find that what you studied wasn’t on the test? For your next test, make sure you know what concepts are being tested before you start studying. If the class syllabus is not clear, simply ask the teacher or instructor which chapters and information the test will cover.

3. Try three unusual tricks with your class notes
If your class requires pages and pages of notes, it can be overwhelming to study them. Try one of these three tricks for getting the most out of your class notes:

  • Re-write your notes. The act of physically re-writing the words can help you comprehend and remember them better.
  • Say your notes out loud. For auditory learners, reading your notes out loud can be a very powerful way to remember them.
  • Re-organize your notes. Different people remember things different ways. It may help to re-organize your notes into categories that make sense to you. You might write them in outline format. Or you might right key concepts on index cards. Organizing your notes can improve your comprehension and memory.

4. Use highlighter pens and sticky notes
When it comes to studying, some textbooks can be intimidating. They contain so much information and so much text that it can be hard to know where to start. To help sort out the most important pieces of information and mark important passages, it is helpful to use a highlighter pen (if you own the book) or sticky notes (if you don’t own the book). Be sure not to go overboard with the highlighter pen, or before you know it, the whole page will be highlighted. Just stick to the main points that you will need to remember.

5. Have flashcards, will travel
Flashcards are a tried-and-true method for memorizing important terms and concepts. Create a set of flashcards from your notes, and take them with you everywhere you go. You can practice your flashcards while waiting in line, standing at the bus stop, or studying with friends.

6. Take brain breaks
When you study, you want your time to be used efficiently and effectively. If you try to study for too many hours in a row, your brain may start to get fatigued. To avoid this, take quick study breaks every hour or half hour. Take five minutes to stroll around the block, meditate, or stretch.

7. Avoid getting distracted
Do you answer every ping and notification that comes in on your phone? Studying with your cell phone nearby can be very distracting. Even if you’re just spending a minute or two answering a text, it’s still taking away from your concentration. Make a pledge to yourself that you will put away all devices and screens while you study for your next test. You will be amazed at how much more efficiently you study.

8. Take care of both your brain and your body
Studying is all about your brain, but don’t forget to take care of your body too. Get regular exercise throughout the week, and aim to get a good night’s sleep the night before the test. Also start the day with a healthy breakfast. Treating your body right will help you feel better on the day of the test.

For more test-preparation tips, try Unusual Study Tips for Your Next Test. If you take these tips to heart, we bet that your next test will be less stressful. Walking into the classroom knowing that you’ve prepared carefully can help to ease the test-taking nerves. Why not give it a try? We know you can do it!

These test-prep tips are a service of the Branford Hall Career Institute, with locations throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. Contact us online to find out about our career-focused training in fields such as medical assisting, massage therapy, computer networking and security, and more.