Exam Taking Tips

Tips for Studying

Do All the Coursework – Ensure that before you start really studying for your exams that you have all the readings, practice problems, and homework assignments complete!

Create Mnemonics – Mnemonics are devices that can help you memorize formulas, key concepts, definitions, etc. A really basic example of a mnemonic is “B.E.D.M.A.S.” which stands for “Brackets, Exponents, Division, Multiplication, Addition, Subtraction”.

Make Study Guides for Each Exam – Know what class content will be covered on the exam and then go through the textbook, your class notes, and any other material and write down any information that you think may be on the exam (including: important concepts, definitions, and formulas). Reading and writing all or this information will help you memorize it faster.

Make Flash Cards – Making flash cards can be time consuming, but they are helpful tools In remembering vocabulary, formulas, and key concepts. They are also easy to carry around with you so you can review them anytime.

Quiz Yourself – To ensure that you are prepared for your exam, make a mock exam to test how well you know the material. Write down a list of keywords or questions and make sure to leave room underneath each one. Then, pretend that you’re taking the exam and write down as much as you can.

Get Enough Sleep – College students who get a full night of sleep are more alert, more focused and learn things easier than those who are sleep deprived. Especially during the weeks preceding exams keep your sleep schedule as consistent as possible.

Set Exam Preparation Goals – Setting goals for yourself will help make sure that you stay on track with your exam preparations (especially when you have more than 1 exam to study for). Be sure to print out your schedule for the weeks preceding your exams and plan out when you are going to study! You’re more likely to be productive if you have goals to achieve.

Remember to Take Breaks – Studying for exams can be hard. You need to take short breaks to allow your brain to process and retain the information. Be sure to take short breaks, otherwise, it may be hard to go back to studying. When you begin studying again, review the material you have already studied, then, move on to something new.

Don’t Just Study Alone – Studying with other people can be a great way to enhance what you learn while studying on your own.

Tips for Test Taking

Dump Your Brain – When you first get your exam, write down any information that is difficult to remember such as formulas, dates, keywords, etc. on the back or the exam. Then, you can reference it while you’re taking the exam without worrying if you’ll remember it correctly.

Skim Through the Entire Exam – When you first get your exam, skim through the entire exam and mark the questions you know that you can answer or questions that you don’t know right off the bat.

Skip the Questions You Don’t Know – Don’t waste time on questions you’re unsure of. Mark them with question marks and move on: you can go back to them later.

Double Check Your Work – Use any extra time you have to double check your answers, make sure you’ve followed all the directions, and haven’t skipped any pages.

Look Elsewhere on the Exam for Answers – Sometimes the answer to one question may be found on another section or the exam worded differently.

Pace Yourself – Being able to take an exam quickly yet carefully is essential. If necessary, wear a watch or periodically keep your eye on the clock so you are aware of your time left. Also, don’t get anxious if you hear other students finishing their exam early.

Ask Questions – If you’re confused about the wording or meaning or a question, ask your professor. Don’t risk getting a question wrong because you misunderstood it.

Carefully Read All of the Directions – Most students lose points on exams because they were careless and didn’t fully read all of the directions; don’t be one or them!

Follow Your Gut Instinct – Most of the time when students second guess themselves, they choose the wrong answer.

Relax – Exams are stressful; there can be a lot of pressure on you to succeed, but remember that stressing out works against you. You risk panicking and/or forgetting information you’ve studied.


Reprinted with permission from the Center for Learning and Student Success at Florida Atlantic University.