10 Test Preparation Tips for Your Next College Exam

Learn the best way for you to study.

Achieving good college grades requires finding an effective study style. Experts emphasize understanding learning strategies beyond high school habits. Here are 10 tips to boost test scores.

Develop a study plan.

Effective exam preparation involves planning and scheduling study sessions ahead of time, avoiding last-minute cramming. Dedicate focused study blocks to address gaps in understanding and ensure accountability.

Study right after class.

Successful students start studying during the course, using effective methods like note-taking, which aids retention. Cornell University suggests concise notes, post-class summaries, and various study tools for better understanding.

Familiarize yourself with the testing style of your professor.

Understanding the exam format and professor's expectations is crucial. Different exams require varied study approaches. Request study guides and past exams, attend study sessions, and aim to apply classroom learning in real-world contexts.

Work with a team.

Experts recommend group study to enhance learning and retention. When no study guide is provided, create one with peers. Teaching each other helps fill knowledge gaps, and articulating concepts improves understanding, even if explaining to a pet or picture.

Don’t pull an all-nighter to study.

 Pulling all-nighters for exams is ineffective. Research highlights the importance of sleep, with adults needing seven or more hours nightly. Prioritize sleep for clear thinking and effective problem-solving, especially for teenagers' development.

Use supplemental instruction on campus.

Colleges offer valuable academic resources like success centers, peer mentors, and academic coaches. These services aid students in learning, and many universities also provide downloadable study materials for remote learners.

Study with electronic and digital aids.

Technology, like Quizlet and text-to-voice apps, aids studying. These resources are accessible and offer flexibility, though a mix of methods is recommended by experts. 

Take care of your mental and physical health.

Prioritize sleep for mental and physical health. Relax in your study schedule. Avoid negative thinking traps, embrace imperfection, and share struggles with peers. Stay hydrated and eat nutritiously before exams. 

Avoid passive learning.

Passive learning techniques like reading and re-reading are ineffective in college, particularly for STEM exams. Active strategies, like visual mapping and teaching others, are vital for understanding course objectives and avoiding the common mistake of passive studying.