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Friday, December 7, 2018

How to properly prepare for tests and exams

From the eNotes.com blog, here is this great blog post worth taking a look at: Final Exam Prep: 10 Study Tips to Combat Test Anxiety

It appears that it may be written for more the college student in mind, but definitely some awesome takeaways for high school students here, as well. I encourage you to check it out.

I have some of my own advice and experiences to share, as well. My wisdom where it concerns test and exam preparation comes from my time in college, too, not high school (side note: I was a total slacker in high school. One of these days soon, I'll write a post here about my slacking ways in high school and the regrets I came to have because of them). But again, that doesn't really matter - the overall concepts and strategies are the same. Here are my thoughts, and they all tie together to form one solid and comprehensive plan to get the most out of your tests and exams:

Cram sessions/all-nighters are often useless and not worth it. If you think you're going to make up for an entire semester's worth (or quarter, unit, etc.) of studying the night before your test or exam, you're only fooling yourself. Sure, a few answers may stick around just long enough in your head, but for the most part, you're not going to remember the real substance you need to. Plus, you're going to feel tired, crabby, and just all-around miserable the day of the test, and so having a few basic answers stick around just long enough is not worth all that agony. Instead, you want to get in the habit of periodically reviewing the semester's (or quarter, unit, etc.) key lessons and takeaways in smaller chunks of time spread out across the period of content covered in the test. Doing so will properly store the answers in your long-term memory and prevent the misery you're going to feel after pulling an all-nighter, which, as we know, has very little to no benefit for you whatsoever. The day of your test or exam, review your notes and study aids when you find a little time here and there - at breakfast, while you're waiting for the bus / on the bus, and definitely during study hall if you have one beforehand. If you've been studying and reviewing all along in shorter batches of time, then this review the day of should be light, casual, and stress-free. Consider buying or making your own flashcards.

And speaking of all-nighters, get some solid sleep - not just the night before the big test day, but make it a regular habit. It's absolutely critical to get regular rest, especially at your age, when you're still developing. Go for that 7-8 hour range every night, and try to make your sleeping hours consistently the same each night (like 9pm-5am or 10pm-6pm).

Watch your diet and have a good dinner and breakfast before the test. Good nutrition is always important. I'm not saying you always have to avoid candy, chips, ice cream, fried and other junk foods. I'm far from being the perfect example when it comes to diet. But try to keep these kinds of foods to a minimum, and work in an adequate amount of the healthy stuff on a consistent basis - your vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, good dairy, etc. Before you get a good night's sleep the evening before the big test, eat a good dinner. Follow that up with a good breakfast the morning of test day. Stay away from the high-fat, salty, sugary, and fast food options.

So, to recap:
  • Cramming and all-nighters are not going to work. Instead, break up your studying and review into smaller chunks spread out over a much larger period of time.
  • If you follow the first point, then your review the day of should be light, casual, and stress-free.
  • Get consistently solid sleep, including a good night's rest the evening before the big test.
  • Watch your diet always, but eat a decent dinner and breakfast before the test.
  • Consider buying or making your own flashcards as an effective study aid.        

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