How to Ace the Test

Monday, September 14, 2015



It’s that time of year again—time to say goodbye to sleeping in until noon and hello to early morning classes. Many secondary and post-secondary students experience stress and self-doubt at the start of a new school year, which can derail their best intentions for success. By developing more efficient studying habits, students are in a better position to excel. Here are some tips to help make the academic year ahead a stellar one.

Reduce stress

Stress can have a huge impact on your academic achievements. If you’re stressed about one thing, it’s hard to focus on something else. Here are a few techniques that will help you manage stress while you’re in school:

  • Make a list: Instead of allowing your work to overwhelm you, start by making a list. Write out everything that needs to be done including essays, studying, assignments and even laundry and grocery shopping. Then, make a weekly schedule. Decide how many hours you will need to dedicate to each task in order to finish everything. As you complete a task on your list, cross it off—it’s such a satisfying feeling!
  • Don’t procrastinate: As difficult as this one is, start your work as soon as it is assigned. If you have a big essay due at the end of the semester, begin your research right away. Spreading out your work load over several weeks will not only keep you calm closer to your deadline, but also help you produce better work.
  • Sleep and exercise: With so much on your plate, it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself. Whether it’s running, swimming, cycling or even just walking, make sure you take the time to exercise. It’ll help you sleep better and relieve stress. 

Improve your memory

Tests and exams generally require that you memorize information about a specific topic. This isn’t always easy—especially when you’ve got several classes on the go. Here’s how you can make memorizing important information a little bit easier:

  • Write it out: Research suggests that we store information better when we write it out than when we type it.3 So when it’s time to review your notes for a test or exam, a great way to make sure you remember all of the important information is to write it down as many times as possible.
  • Switch it up: When you’re making a study schedule, don’t stick to just one subject per sitting. If you change up your material every few hours, you allow time for the information to sink in. When you quiz yourself later, you’ll know how much you’ve actually internalized.
  • Move around: Studies have shown that reviewing the same material in different learning environments boosts memory. Why? Moving to a new location forces the brain to form new associations with that same study material, making it a stronger memory.

Manage your time

One of the biggest pitfalls for students is time management. Understanding how to properly manage your time can make a world of difference when it comes to studying. Here are a few time management techniques that you may find helpful:

  • Carry a day planner: A day planner or agenda can be incredibly useful when it comes to planning your time. Day planners give you a visual of how much time you have before something is due, which will help you prioritize your work. Every morning, write down the things you’d like to accomplish that day. Then, give them each a number corresponding to priority. That way, you’ll know which items are the most important to complete.
  • Learn to say no: In your academic years, there are many opportunities to socialize with fellow students and get involved. While it’s tempting to make sure you hit every party, remind yourself why you’re in school and make sure that your commitments don’t throw your goals off course. 

Gain confidence

Feeling confident when you write a test or exam is going to help you remain cool under pressure. Here’s how you can boost your confidence before a big test:

  • Teach it: The best way to solidify your understanding of a certain topic is to teach it. Offer to help your peers study. Better yet, sign up to be a tutor. 
  • Talk it out: Get together with someone from your class to talk about study material. Discussing it with someone else before the big test will help you become more comfortable and confident.

Ace the Test

Now you know how to reduce stress, improve your memory, manage your time and boost your confidence when it comes to your schoolwork—you’ve got all the tools you need to make this school year and great success.

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