Preparation Tips for Exam Success

Exams, whether for school, college entrance, or professional certifications and licensing, are stressful. Unless you are one of the truly gifted people who find exams a breeze, it is important to be well-prepared on the examination day. Here are the top tips that can help you ensure success.

Tip One: Start early. Depending on the type of exam, give yourself plenty of time to study and prepare. If it is a school exam, perhaps you need a few weeks; for college boards, a few months; and for professional examinations, perhaps up to a year. The most important thing is not to leave anything to the last minute.

Tip Two: Lay out a plan. Based on the time you’ve allowed yourself, get a calendar, and write a plan that covers everything you need to do until exam day. Include key milestones like sign-up dates, confirmation, and also set aside specific study times with particular subject matters. This is important so you don’t miss studying for a specific section of the exam.

Tip Three: Let people know you’re preparing. This goes for any exam, but it is especially important for professional examinations. Alert your boss, teachers, family, and friends that you’re focusing on preparation where you may not be around as much, or you may need their help.

Tip Four: Make summary notes and note cards. The process of consolidating information is helpful for memory retention, plus it makes things easier to review. Note cards are great for quick review and for eliciting help from friends. Put them to work by quizzing you on information.

Tip Five: Take lots of practice exams. These can be found online and in study guide booklets. When taking practice exams, do so under real test taking situations. Time yourself and don’t stop looking up for answers or getting distracted. Preparing yourself mentally for the exam is as important as understanding the information.

Tip Six: Take care of yourself. Working out your brain takes a physical toll, so be sure to eat well and get plenty of rest. If you’re not a regular fitness buff, then start at least taking 20 to 30-minute walks after studying. This gets the blood flowing and it is proven to help in retaining information. Sleep is another important memory booster. This is especially important as the actual exam date approaches.

Tip Seven: Consider a test preparation course. This is almost a necessity these days. For college entrance exams, most schools offer free or nominal cost review courses. For professional licensing examinations, you’ll need to locate one of the many professional test preparation companies. There are plenty of options depending on need from multi-week courses to one-day exam taking tips seminars. It generally pays to get some outside support.

Tip Eight: Visualize success. Another proven way to improve exam success is to regularly imagine positive outcomes. This can be done with affirmations and sayings or visualization before going to sleep. Whatever the technique is, a strong and positive mental outlook is crucial to success.

Tip Nine: Be alert on the exam day. Start focusing and rest a few days ahead of exam day. Many experts say it is not the rest you get the night before an important day, but two nights before. Keep this in mind as you set your schedule. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get to the exam location and bring water and snacks as allowed. You want your body to be in its best shape to support your brain power.

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