Preparing for exams can be challenging. It can be a struggle to commit new information to memory and categorize facts during crunch time so that they are easily retrievable when the clock starts ticking. Knowing how to properly prepare for exams can make all the difference between spending time unsuccessfully cramming and stressing and spending time preparing effectively and achieving the best possible outcome.
Here are a few tried and true preparation tips to help every Cadet study effectively and perform to the best of his abilities.
Schedule Your Studying
Schedules can help you stay on task and also help you realistically allocate time for studying. Creating a schedule forces you to plan ahead and ensure you’ve set aside enough time to study while also taking care of your basic needs such as eating, sleeping, and providing your mind with a much-needed break.
Review, Review, Review
Taking accurate notes is the first step towards effective review. Talk to your instructors and ask them to identify the most important topics to study. Ask how you might best go about preparing for your upcoming test. Many instructors can give you pointers to help you study more effectively. Review pertinent content multiple times over a number of days in order to solidify your understanding.
Sleep on It
Sleep is a vital part of helping your brain catalogue and remember information. In fact, a Harvard study suggests that dreaming may help organize learning material and improve memory, which in turn improves test results. Sleeping also helps you rest your mind and body, allowing you to be more alert during your studying and testing time and helping you get the most out of the efforts you put in.
Study with a Friend
Forming study groups and learning with friends is a great way to learn by teaching. Assign each study partner a section of content and then get together to teach each other the assigned topics. Learning by teaching requires you to effectively articulate the subject matter, which means you must fully understand your given topic and making it easier for you to recall on test day.
Make Room for Relaxation
Your body and mind need time to rest, relax, and recuperate between study sessions. Get outside for some exercise, eat right, and socialize with friends and family. A varied schedule can help you reduce your stress and also help you stay focused during the times in which you are deeply entrenched in the books.
Review Previous Tests
If you’re studying for a comprehensive final exam, pull out those previous tests and review. Most likely, the questions posed on the final exam will mirror the format of those in previous exams, and much of what you are expected to know will be similar in nature. Also take the time to review sample questions at the end of textbook chapters.
Study in Spurts
Long study sessions can cause the mind to wander, and the ability to absorb new information can quickly begin to taper off. So break up your study sessions into short 20-30 minute sessions and stretch in between, take a walk, or talk to a friend. Finding time to focus on other activities between short study sessions can help your mind stay on task while you’re trying to commit information to memory.
Exam time can be stressful, and it often feels like there are not enough hours in the day to study everything that is necessary to ensure a successful testing outcome. But with a good study schedule, plenty of rest, time for other activities, and a focused mind during study time, you can get the most out of your study sessions and feel calm and confident on testing day.