Exams are stressful. A recent study by Australian youth service, ReachOut, found that 65.1% of students experienced "worrying levels" of stress about exams. Those results are probably equally high in other developed nations, as doing well on exams can sometimes be necessary to achieve your career objectives.
The best way to ensure that you succeed in your tests and minimize stress is to make sure you study effectively and efficiently. If you can walk into the room feeling confident in your knowledge, you'll have a high probability of doing well. Here are the top 3 ways to study so that you ace your test!
Study guides are the first place to start when looking at getting the best mark possible on an exam. Developed either by the body hosting the test or by a third party, well-designed study guides will walk you through core concepts that you need to know and includes review questions. For example, one of the LEED exam preparation guides will help you "by emphasizing key terms and providing application learning through practice questions."
Think of these guides as filters. Your brain can only hold so much, and study guides help you figure out what is and isn't essential for the test. If you notice recurring patterns in these guides (e.g., they all mention concept X), make sure you thoroughly know it. There's a good chance you'll find it on the test!
Flashcards are another fantastic method of studying. This method has a simple but powerful premise: you write down questions, diagrams, or other information on the one side and then put the answer on the other. As a simple example, a math flashcard might have 2 + 2 on the front and the number four on the back.
If you've read some study guides first, you know what concepts would make suitable candidates for flashcards. Anything that you find repeated on those guides, you should write down the question, terminology, or diagram that you need to know on the front and then put the answer on the back.
Flashcards work on the principle that repetitive training forms long-term memory. Once you look at a card, you should put it in a pile that you review less if you get it right. If you get it wrong, you should put it in a stack you look at more. With enough iterations, you will eventually be able to look at all the flashcards and be able to recall the answers quickly.
On the test, this also means that when you see questions relating to these concepts, you'll pull those answers from memory with speed and ease.
Practice exams are the third way to study for an upcoming test. When doing a practice exam, try and recreate the real environment as much as possible. If an examiner will be timing you, set the alarm for that same length of time. Similarly, if you will have any aids for your test, make sure you have those aids (and only those aids) available. The idea behind the practice test is to pretend like it is the real thing and see how you would do.
It would be best if you aimed higher on the practice tests than what you need on the real exam. For example, if you need 50% to pass, make sure you aim for at least 70% on the practice tests. By aiming higher, you'll have confidence in yourself, and you'll also have a buffer in case you get a few questions that you didn't account for in your studying.
Consider adding any answers that you get wrong on a practice exam to your flashcards. That way, you'll make sure to keep that information fresh in your mind!
Studying Is a Methodical Process
By using study guides, flashcards, and practice exams, you'll provide yourself the best possible chance of success when it comes time to the real exam. These methods form a process. Look at study guides. Use the information that you find on those to develop flashcards. Once you have enough flashcards, you can memorize those and then try a practice exam. Anything you get wrong, you can put on the flashcards again.
After a while, you'll find that you're getting less and less wrong on your practice exams. Once you feel like you can do very well on a practice test, you're ready for the real thing! You'll be able to walk into it with confidence, minimal stress, and the knowledge that you'll be able to achieve your career goals!