How To Study For Tests - Tips That Help Me

Updated: Jan 18, 2021

Hey Guys! It's your very own resident author here again with a new post.

I have been more stressed than usual lately, and all the honor goes to oh-so glorious finals that are coming up -which is exactly what this post is about! In honor of finals, I've rounded up my favorite tips and tricks to help you pass - no, ace that test!


1. Take Your Time

Starting early is extremely important. Give yourself a minimum of a week to tackle the harder subjects before the actual exams begin. In simpler and more straight forward words, make a schedule.

Let's say your exams start on the 18th and end on the 27th of whatever month. You can set your schedule that you study the last subjects first (around the 10th), and move backward until you collide with the actual exam date. The easier subjects you can keep for the night of as-is, whatever you feel your ability is:

Making a schedule similar to the one above doesn't just give you more time to study, it also helps you feel more organized and in control of the tests, AND ensures you don't spend 100% of your waking hours buried under your study material!

I need more time for physics and chemistry, so I pay attention to those well beforehand. Biology needs a lot of memorizing, so I also place it higher up my study schedule too.

Even if you don't study completely all of the material beforehand, when you come to study the night of the exam it'll be easier for you to understand and study than if you hadn't.


2. (Re)Explain For Yourself

Don't be shy to lock your bedroom door and pace around or sit at your desk, reexplaining to yourself every detail. Whether you're a visual or auditory learner, this tip could help you.

- If you prefer listening, don't be shy to close the door and explain it aloud to yourself. Hearing my own voice explain and repeat the information helps me remember it more easily come exam day. I used to explain the material to myself in a standard classroom teacher lecture and ... well, it didn't exactly work that well because it bored me out. After some fine-tuning and confidence-boosting (despite that I'd be alone in my room) my explanations looked a bit more like this:

"So now we have photosynthesis: the synthesis that uses "photo" which is light to make glucose. So the green bois, my trusty chloroplasts, take the sunlight - I still don't understand how, but they do - and they use that with carbon dioxide and water to make their food, glucose, which is ... *steals a glance at the book* ... C6H12O6 and oxygen, which we breathe! And boom we have plant food, delicious and nutritious ... though I tasted a flower stem as a kid once and it was gross."

Use anything and any way that you know will help you remember; sometimes I'll have my sister say it aloud for me or I'd tie it with an incident so that during the exam, I'll remember my sister's voice or the incident and know the answer. I swear, it actually works!

- If you prefer seeing, go on YouTube, dodge your suggestions like flame-hot bullets, and search up educational videos about that topic. For general topics, I like CrashCourse, CrashCourse Kids (hey - don't judge the name) and In A Nutshell. For chemistry, I watch Professor Dave Explains and Tyler DeWitt; for biology, Amoeba Sisters almost always have my back; for French (when I used to take it) I highly benefitted from Learn French with Alexa; for literature, Overly Sarcastic Productions and Course Hero are gems that guarantee edutainment.

A lot of creators have pretty cool and simple videos, so discover your favorite as you go!

I also encourage you to draw diagrams or scribble margin notes - I do that as I study instead of at the end. On a separate sheet of paper, I just jot down scribbles, arrows, tables, diagrams - visuals that help me remember what I need to know. Flow charts and graphs are useful, too! It could also double as a quick revision sheet before you walk into the exam - an awesome added bonus!


3. Go Offline

Yeah, you can use educational YouTube videos and try solving a couple of Quizlet quizzes, but do that after you're done with studying the material from your actual textbook and notes. Lock your phone (and laptop, and tablet, and favorite novel, and everything else that might distract you) in another room until you finish, so you don't give yourself a chance to procrastinate. If you trust yourself, keep them at a distance from you in the same room.

If you need to study material from your devices - and this is now more likely thanks to online school and COVID-19 - collect all of your material onto one device. Email or send all documents, PDFs, images, and links to your laptop or tablet and focus on it. Avoid using multiple devices to a) decrease the chance of you getting distracted by a notification from your phone, and b) you have everything efficiently in one place, helping you get things done faster.

The main point here is to avoid procrastinating! Instead of spending three hours studying, you'd waste an entire day sitting on your desk with distracted studying and a chopped information flow. If you're studying and stop every twenty minutes, your train of thought is interrupted and it's hard for you to retain the information you read.

So stay focused and take a break after no less than 40 minutes! I highly recommend you take your break outside your study area, so your brain associates the location with productivity. It's also a good chance for you to not sit in one room for 14 hours a day, and have a change of scenery and a healthy walk break, too.


4. Pay Attention!

More than half of the actual studying is done in-class while the teacher is explaining.

As both a visual and auditory learner, hearing the teacher's voice and seeing the presentation and whiteboard notes, not to mention your own notes that you take down or screenshot, all contribute to you understanding the subject from the start.

I've read it somewhere that a study actually proved that if you paid attention in class it increases your chance of remembering that information when you come to study. And on that note, remember to ask - any questions that may pop up in your head, just raise your hand and ask! Forget the class and forget your "awkward voice" (which it totally isn't, by the way,) the teacher is here to teach and it's their job to clarify things for you. Even during revision time, if you need clarity on a certain point, don't hesitate to ask.


5. Get Proper Sleep

Teens need 8-10 hours of nighttime sleep per day. No, naps in the morning don't count because they're just power naps to get you through the day.

If you're sleep-deprived, whatever amount of studying you do will take much, much longer than if you slept well and were at your maximum performance capacity. Try and schedule yourself so that you finished everything before or around 9-10 pm so you can go to bed early and win better sleeping hours. The rich night hours are from 10 pm - 3 am, so try and make sure you're asleep at those times.

Please make sure you sleep. Try the hardest you can to do so. Science has gone to so many extents to prove it and so has Islam! In the Quran and in the Prophet's Hadeeth, night sleep is mentioned more than once.

Sleep. No excuses.


6. Find Your Way

Everyone has a different way of studying. I like talking aloud while my sister prefers to speak quietly to herself. I like walking around while I memorize while you may prefer to sit down.

It all differs. The tips and tricks I gave you here are a general outline. Over time you involuntarily start to customize it to fit your style, because after all, every person is unique. After not too long, you'll have your own study process that you like and are comfortable with.


Anyway, I hope this has helped you - and good luck with your exams.

Now go write that study schedule and get ready to ace those finals!

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