Do you know the most important skill for every student?
Here it is: How to pass exams.
We all know that the vast majority of successful students get to the top by applying some simple but effective study strategies.
And here’s the key:
Getting ready for your exam efficiently comes from learning how to study smarter, not harder. Trust us. You’ll become more aware of this fact as the years go on and you advance in your education.
As time passes, more and more of your classes will only get tougher, and you’ll end up always having to burn the midnight oil if you haven’t developed the proper study habits.
Here are the top 13 study tips from researchers and scientists that will tell you how to pass any exam with flying colors.
First things first. How do you start your preparation for exam?
1. 🔎 Find out what your test will be like
What’s the bottom line?
Start your test preparation by first learning about the test format (multiple choice, listening, essay, etc.) so the individual tasks won’t get you down. Don’t hesitate to ask your teacher.
Here are the most popular types of test:
- Multiple choice – choose one or more right answers from a list of options
- True or false – determine if the statement is true
- Matching – connect two parts of a sentence, an object with an action, an object with a subject, and more
Example: IELTS Matching – Listening Exercise
- Fill-in-the-blank – choose or write the correct word or phrase for the blank space
Example: Can you name the Harry Potter Quotes?
- Essay writing – choose a topic and write a paper
Example: 100 IELTS Essay Questions
Although your teacher may not straight away tell you what material you will need for the exam, he or she will definitely give you a list of the relevant topics to review.
If you have the chance, look through the tests from previous years – usually, they are similar in structure and content.
2. 📃 Develop a memory for test
Here is the deal:
It’s nearly impossible to develop memory in a short period, but you can improve your skill at remembering by correcting thoughts and habits. Improvement does not depend on how much you use your memory but how you use it.
So, what you should do?
Develop your memory for the test by making a habit out of paying close attention to the material you wish to remember. Make sure you have a clear image of the face, name, date, or facts you are learning. Make them meaningful by associating them with any material you already know.
Getting a good amount of sleep and eating proper meals are also essential factors for successful memorizing.
While learning, try to obtain as many different kinds of impressions as possible. Do whatever works for you. Some people memorize pictures better, while others memorize sounds better.
Putting together impressions from all the sense organs makes remembering easier as we rely on both sight and hearing.
Try to visualize the information. Draw a diagram or graphic and take notes to get a clear vision of the material.
With a good memory, you will never doubt how to pass any exam, right?
Want to learn even more? Just watch this video:
Try to spend half of your study session just reading. For the next half, actively do something with what you have learned: write new notes, try to find connections, or solve problems.
Study more than what’s just enough to pass your exam. It’s worth it—experiments have proven that 50 percent more studying results in 50 percent more retention.
In fact, in a week’s time, it was found that people who spent more time studying memorized six times more than those who barely covered the material.
Aren’t these great finals week tips?
3. 🏫 Don’t stick to one study place
Here’s an important trick you might not know:
By changing your environment, you force your brain to recollect the same information in different places. That means that your brain will see that material as more useful and worth keeping.
To maximize your performance, take into consideration the context of your testing environment while studying. It’ll be easier to recall the information during the exam if you learned it in a similar environment.
That’s why many students prefer preparing for a test in a classroom or library. Moreover, you may learn better with a friend or as part of a team. This increases your chances of getting a high score.
4. 📚 Organize your study place
Dispose of any clutter you have on your table. Make sure that the light is right, your chair is cozy, and you have enough fresh air.
Before getting started, find what works for you and make your study space as comfortable as possible. For example, some people work better in complete silence, while others prefer having some background music.
Also, your choice of furniture is a factor. If you have an uncomfortable chair, learning to pass an exam becomes challenging. Choose a better option and improve your concentration.
The majority of study methods demand someplace specific to perform them whether it’s taking notes or making flashcards. That’s why it’s great to have a large desk and a whiteboard to organize everything to be most effective.
5. 📵 Get distractions away
If you really want to study effectively, here is the kicker:
Put aside all of your social networks, mobile apps, and computer games during your study sessions. If you can’t resist the urge to check notifications or reply to messages, search for an app that will block all sources of distractions for a certain period.
There are some extensions and mobile apps that may help.
Go ahead and devote all your attention to the test!
6. 📅 Divide studying into sessions
Going to try and learn everything in one night by reading your study materials over and over again?
Contrary to popular belief, cramming doesn’t work.
In fact, it can cause more harm than help. It’s better to plan everything ahead of time and spread out your study periods for at least one week before the exam. In this way, you will have enough time to develop a deeper understanding of the subject.
For better long-term retention of knowledge, be sure to take regular breaks. Take time to go outside and enjoy nature or to do something that you enjoy.
Divide your studying into sessions of just 20 to 30 minutes, and focus on a single topic during each session. Always try to think of multiple ways to use the same information—that’s one of the most effective study skills.
It’s also important to understand what tasks will lead you to your goal fast and well. That’s why you should make a to-do list including all the topics, exercises, papers, and materials needed.
To develop a weekly schedule, why not try using specific software:
7. ☑ Set a goal
Set a realistic goal and determine the amount of time you are going to spend studying. Write down all of the steps in a planner.
Each time you plan your study session, set a goal to understand the material thoroughly enough that you could explain it clearly to anyone.
If you can set a goal, why can’t you pass an exam?
8. 👯♀️ Group up with your friends
One of the best ways to study effectively is to cooperate with your friends. Group study is the perfect opportunity to compare class notes and discuss any especially complicated concepts you think will be given in the test.
Group study for the test can be effective if all group members are disciplined and results-oriented. Moreover, you need to meet frequently enough to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Some group members may share some tips to pass the exam easier, that you didn’t know yet.
Making up questions for each other and meeting to compare answers is an excellent idea, as well as giving each other timed quizzes to become familiar with working under pressure.
Make sure each member contributes to the group work by having a conversation on this topic on the very first day.
9. ✅ Test yourself
For individual studying, try a study card technique, like flash cards, or download an app to make a quiz of your own.
Use information from the notes you have taken while studying so that the material on the cards is clear to you.
To use flash cards to their highest potential, keep these tips in mind:
Make flashcards with basic definitions and concepts, mix them up, and pick out two to three cards to begin with. After learning the material from these cards, choose one more and go on.
When you have six cards, start dropping one of the original ones and continue until you have learned all of them. Repeat two to three times a day for 15 to 20 minutes, and you are ready to go.
Consider making physical copies of your flashcards so you can carry them around and use at any time.
And now to the test part!
10. 🥊 Beat your test anxiety
Wondering how to beat your test anxiety? Here you go:
On the day before the exam, you probably will be feeling sick and anxious, maybe even enough to make you want to run away or murder someone.
Relax—you are not the only one who has a fear of tests. Researchers have examined this question to supply you with ways to get calm enough to recollect the correct answer during test time.
Here’s one of the more surprising tips:
Don’t drink coffee or tea before your test, as caffeine just adds to the stress. As a result, you will probably be too pumped up to focus well on the task at hand.
Try to eat light or stay away from food altogether before the test. This makes sure that your most oxygen-rich blood goes straight to your brain and not your digestive system. It’s better take a walk to get the blood moving than to eat a huge meal.
Find a comfortable outfit that won’t distract you. Also, make sure you have all the pencils, pens, and erasers you will need so you won’t feel nervous over their absence.
Most importantly, be confident about your performance and don’t worry if you feel nervous: you have already done everything you could to get ready.
Don’t let yourself be distracted by other students who seem to be writing non-stop. Concentrate on your own tasks instead, focusing only on how to pass your examination.
Don’t be afraid to take a pause if you need to—just close your eyes and relax with some breathing exercises.
And now let’s look at some tips to pass a test.
11.♟ Develop the test strategy
There are few main strategies for taking an examination.
Here’s the deal:
Scan the whole test first to get an idea of what concepts you will need. And as a bonus, you may find that the answers to some questions are actually given within other questions.
As you’re scanning, divide the whole test into sections for time management. Try to figure out which parts will take the most or least time, and organize your time accordingly.
Never try to save time by skipping the instructions, as they sometimes contain hints.
Besides, not reading the task instructions can lead to you wasting your time—what if the instructions say “answer one of the following questions” and you waste your time by answering all of them?
Remember that there are two main ways you can approach your test: either by completing your test section by section or by giving answers to the questions you know first and then coming back to the ones you are not certain of. By tackling your test in the second way, you will have more time to recall necessary information.
Always review your answers before you turn in your test to make sure you haven’t forgotten any skipped questions.
However, while looking through your work, don’t second-guess yourself too much—correct the answer only if the mistake is obvious.
And now it is time to use these tips!
12. 🤓 Learn from professionals
Whether it’s your entrance exams or final tests, you don’t have to develop new learning methods.
Let professionals do that.
Every time you feel lost and can’t find the starting point, turn to one of the following books. At least one of them, for sure, can help.
Dominic O’Brien’s pdf book is the most searchable material on developing your memory. Learn to memorize numbers, directions, speeches, and many other details you may need on examinations.
Don’t want to study hard for exams? Then, order this book.
In his guide, Mike Evans explains the simple techniques of passing tests. You’ll learn how to get distinctions in all subjects without overworking and stressing yourself out.
Many of our readers are here, because they’re preparing for IELTS. If you’re one of them, then learn to pass the written part of examination with this book.
Another way to get innovative ideas on learning, procrastinating, time management, and so on is to subscribe to thematic blogs.
Blog writers, although sometimes they don’t hold a psychology or teaching degree, know how to conduct research. This skill and the ability to ask the right questions help them develop detailed tutorials for many significant issues.
- Stanford The College Puzzle is a must for your reading list. Its author, Michael Kirst, is the current President of the California State Board of Education, and he has a lot of tutorials to share with students.
- Succeed in IELTS – listening, writing, and reading tips to pass IELTS successfully. Know if your culture is significant during exams, learn to handle the wordiness of examination texts, and practice the perfect essay structure.
- Mind Shift – a detailed blog on school and college education. To ace exams, you need to study effectively. Mind Shift makes it possible with its statistics and case explanations for better learning.
13. ❓ Work differently with different questions
You might still be wondering how to take exam successfully. Get the answers for many different test types below:
How to pass a multiple choice exam: While reading the question, try to answer it first without looking at the given answers.
Next, read all of them, dismiss the wrong ones, and examine the distractors (statements that are true but don’t quite answer the question). In the end, you will have one variant—the correct one—left.
How to pass a matching exam: Start from the easy matches so you will have fewer options when it comes to harder ones.
Don’t forget to work both left to right and right to left; that is to say, don’t just look at the definition and try to find an appropriate word, but also look at the words and match them to definitions in your head.
When you have the last few pairs left, don’t just match them randomly to avoid unnecessary mistakes.
How to pass a fill in the blank exam: Try looking around the test questions for hints, like spelling and vocabulary words.
And last but not least—how to pass an essay exam: First read the instructions carefully to make sure you know what exactly is required. If you are unsure of any details, ask for clarification from the teacher (if possible).
Get to the point from the minute you start writing.
Don’t waste time on style; it’s better to focus your time and effort on supporting each point of your essay with examples and details.
When you are done, reread the text to make sure you answered the specific question.
If, unfortunately, you run out of time before you finish the essay, go ahead and list the points you were going to make in outline style, as you may get some points for them.
14. 🗃 Use flashcards
How to pass exams without studying too much? Turn studying into a game!
You can write flashcards by hand or use a mobile app for this purpose. Any theory test becomes easy if you spend 15 minutes every day on flashcard review.
Flashcards are an easy way to learn medical terms, foreign words, and programming. The method combines the benefits of regular review and mnemonics techniques that both lead to top grades.
Here’s a couple of apps you can use for better exam results:
15. 😤 Relax and don’t worry after the test
We know, it sounds impossible.
Especially when you face final exams in a high school, IELTS, or other significant tests.
But worrying will not change your grade, but it can negatively affect your next one. Instead, put your focus right away on the next exam.
After you get your test back, look through it to find the questions you missed. If the teacher reviews the test in class, get ready to ask questions.
If you disagree with your exam grade, respectfully approach your teacher to get it explained. Remember that what you can learn from your mistakes is often more important than the grade itself.
Now you know how to pass any exam successfully. Go ahead and try these tips out!