How to study for any test
Some people would call it “cramming” if you study the night before a test. I do not. If you study the night before a test, you still have hours, not minutes to prepare. Hours! The things you can learn (if short-term) in hours!
So, do not feel frightened if you’ve procrastinated until the night before a test to study, although your time management skills do leave something to be desired. You can still learn something to pass the test, even if you’re just studying the night before.
Eat some brain food.
And brain food is definitely not Cocoa Puffs. Scramble up some eggs for dinner, followed by a few bites of dark chocolate. Boost your brain’s workability by giving it what it needs to function properly. Plus, by eating something before you begin studying, you’ll be less tempted to get hungry (and distracted) and quit studying early.
Prepare for other physical needs.
Go to the bathroom.
Get a beverage. Dress comfortably, but not too cozily (you don’t want to end up falling asleep.) Get all the ants out of your pants by running down the street and back. I’m serious. Prepare your body as much as you can for the sit-down study session ahead of you, so you have no excuses to get up and go somewhere.
Organize your study materials.
Get all the materials that relate to the test you’re taking – notes, handouts, quizzes, book, projects – and lay them neatly out on your desk, floor, or bed, so you can see what you have to work with.
Set a timer for 45 minutes.
You’re going to study in 45-minute increments followed by 5-minute breaks. If you try to study indefinitely for hours and hours, your brain will overload and you’ll have to work to regain your focus on studying. It’s better to have smaller goals with mini-rewards (the breaks) so you can last as long as is necessary to learn the material. So, set a timer for 45 minutes and get going.
Follow your study guide.
If your teacher gave you study guide, then start learning as much as possible on it. Refer to your notes, handouts, quizzes, book, etc. when you’re unfamiliar with an item on the guide. Memorize everything on it, using mnemonic devices like acronyms or a song.
If you didn’t get a study guide…
…then refer to your notes, handouts, quizzes, and book to look for things that may be on the test. Teachers create exams from material already presented to you in class, so your lecture notes are invaluable. Memorize the notes with the mnemonic devices. Didn’t take too many notes? Look at the last two pages of each chapter covered on the test, and ask yourself the review questions. Look at the first two pages of each chapter, and learn the basic information about each subtitle. Memorize quiz questions, and items handed to you in class.
Get a study partner to quiz you.
Go get your mom/best friend/brother/anyone and have him or her quiz you on the material. Have them fire questions at you and answer quickly, making a list of anything you get stuck on or can’t remember. Once you’ve been quizzed, take your list and study that material over until you’ve got it.
Make a quick review list.
Write down all your mnemonic devices, important dates, and quick facts on one sheet of paper, so you can refer to it tomorrow morning before the big test.
Get some sleep.
Nothing will make you do worse on a test than pulling an all-nighter. Trust me on this. You may be tempted to stay up all night and cram in as much as is possible, but by all means, get some sleep the night before. When it comes to testing time, you won’t be able to recall all the info you learned because your brain will be functioning in survival mode.
Sneak peeks at your review list…
…throughout the day until testing time comes around – when you’re going to your locker, when you’re waiting for the teacher to start talking, on your way to lunch, etc. PUT THE REVIEW SHEET AWAY before the test. You don’t want to risk getting a zero for cheating after all the time you put into studying!