Helpful test taking strategies to ace your next exam

Picture of Computer Screen with Zoom participants
Several students meet with academic mentors on a zoom call. (Photo by @cwmonty/Unsplash).

Too often, college students find themselves sleep-deprived after pulling an all-nighter of studying before a big exam. But in order to do well on an exam, you must create proper study habits, like pacing yourself, dedicating a little time each day to studying and showing up to the test well-rested and confident. 

The Academic Achievement Center (AAC) is hosting virtual workshops on WebEx to assist students in reaching their academic goals. They’ll provide advice and resources on proper studying techniques from AAC Undergraduate Academic Coaches. The Test Taking Strategies Workshop is a great event to attend if you are struggling to find a successful way to study for exams. This interactive workshop will provide helpful tips on preparing for exams and making the most out of your study sessions. 

An important thing to note is that everyone has a different style of studying that works best for them. Finding what works best for you is an important aspect of a successful study plan and will allow you to feel confident on test day. Once you figure this out, you can begin to set up your plan and get started.  

The first things you should consider are where, when and how you will study.  

“Distractions can be very hard to focus through,” Jenna Fingerman, a seventh semester psychology and sociology major and Master Coach at the AAC, said. “Make sure you are in an environment that is going to be productive for you.”  

Though this environment will look different for everyone, a general rule of thumb to follow is to find a space that is free from distractions.  

The time of day you choose to study is also important, and it should align with the time of your exam. In doing so, you can train your mind to be prepared to work during that time. 

Choosing what study techniques you use is important so that you can properly organize your information and avoid feeling overwhelmed. This can include lecture notes, readings, lecture slides, videos and any other content you have for the class. 

Next comes the actual studying. The AAC has many resources that can help you use your time wisely. The AAC’s Five-Day Study Plan is a great way to maximize your studying sessions by focusing on how your brain learns best and organizing the material into different categories. You can find the plan here.  

Another study technique that is useful for students is the Pomodoro Technique. This time management system centers around the idea of taking breaks after every 25 minutes of work and helps prevent distractions from getting in the way of a successful study session.  

Akin to being prepared is getting a good night sleep. Many students will cram for an exam the night before and end up doing worse because they are tired and not able to focus. Additionally, waking up early and having a good breakfast will ensure that you are properly fueled for your exam. 

Always make sure to show up early for an exam, take a moment to relax and get settled in. This will allow you to be able to review any last-minute notes, instead of rushing in at the last second. If you have followed the proper study techniques, you should feel confident in yourself and your abilities.  

“Going into a test can be very stressful. It is important to destress, relax, breathe and be confident,” Fingerman said.  

If you are interested in attending an AAC workshop, here’s the schedule for this fall:

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