Getting prepared for a test requires a lot of effort, concentration and practice. From a school going kid to an adult aspiring for a bigger career, a test is a big challenge to face. Learn some motivational tips here that make your test preparation easy for you.

Learn from the past

Get motivated to begin test preparation early by reflecting on past examination failures that resulted from postponement.

Use motivational posters

Make a poster of what you want to achieve in the exam and paste it in front of your study table. Looking at it will motivate you to continue preparing. The main idea is to keep your target in mind all the time.

Use time wisely

Question yourself if it’s wiser for you to prepare for the examination at that moment and get a good result or rather while away the limited time and fare poorly in the exam. The answer might motivate you. Remind yourself that every half-hour or hour spent studying well before the test is one or two more correct answers. And remind yourself that the more preparation completed ahead of time, the less to worry about, the night before the test and the less to do to prepare for comprehensive finals.

Short and long-term goals

Reflect on your short-term and long-term goals that may be fulfilled by passing the test.

Use relaxation techniques

Before leaving for the test or while walking to the room, listen to your favorite song or practice meditation for inspiration or read any inspiring quotes in order to get your blood flowing. This would get you motivated and will prevent you from hearing negative comments from poorly prepared classmates.

Confidence

Confidence can greatly reduce feelings of anxiety because if one believes he/she will do well, he/she probably will. Over preparation for the exam is a good way to improve confidence. Know the information “backwards and forwards” and be sure of your understanding. Take self-tests or have another student quiz you to prove to yourself that you’ve mastered the material. Knowing the test taking skills often helps students to gain confidence because they know how to respond to different and possibly unexpected, exam requirements.  Try not to think about what the best student in the class is doing to prepare for the exam; concentrate on yours.

Study groups

Study groups, a form of cooperative learning, are an effective approach to exam preparation. Preparing for a test with two to four other students has several benefits. Because several people share the work, more can be accomplished in a shorter period of time. Study groups allow students to share ideas and explanations of key points and also provide a form of pre-test evaluation, with students quizzing each other on the exam material. When well run, study groups can also reduce exam anxiety and improve motivation. Study groups are particularly useful for comprehensive test preparation and to prepare for tests in a number of ways, such as reading and taking notes from the textbook, reviewing, reorganizing, or recopying class notes, making up and answering practice questions, reorganizing information using outlines, tables, lists, and visual aids and sharing memory strategies.

Study guides

Study guides are used to summarize the main ideas and concepts, without the supporting details, to be covered on an exam and they guide the way one studies. By reducing the information to be learned to a minimum, to the most inclusive topics, study guides identify the major focal areas of the test that should be examined thoroughly and allow one to effectively budget study time on the various topics.

The additional advantages of study guides for test preparation include reviewing of class notes and enhancement of memory registration and recall.

The organization of the information on the study guide will vary according to the type of information, the subject, the type of test, and personal learning styles. Two organizational approaches, topical and categorical, are better for subjective essay exams and for objective tests respectively.

Topical Study Guides

Topical study guides arrange the important information by major topics and the main ideas covered in each of the topics. This information is then organized into a structured format and thereby avoids excessive detail

Categorical Study Guides

Categorical study guides arrange information according to the type or category of information like terms, people’s names, symbols, formulas, concepts, dates, etc. Subsequently predictions are made about specific pieces of information that are likely to occur in each test.

 Organization of information

Organizing information makes it easier to register in and recall from memory on the material. It also provides a structure for answering test questions, especially for essay exams. So prior to the test, put the material to be learned and remembered into a format that one can relate to and remember. Students have a wide range of organizational strategies (formats) from which to choose: visual aids or graphic Organizers, time lines, flow charts, word maps and outlines. The formats used will depend on individual learning styles, the nature of the information (e.g. is it science, history, arts? Is it concepts, numbers, people?), and the type of test questions (e.g. essay, multiple choice, etc.).

Color Coding

Color coding is another helpful organizational tool for test preparation. One of the most common applications of color coding is using highlighters to prioritize information. This involves marking the most important ideas to be remembered from the notes and readings. The key to making highlighting effective is to be very selective in what is marked.  Focus on the main ideas and the key words of definitions and explanations.

Another use of color coding is to categorize information. Ideas related to one topic may be coded with one color, and ideas related to another topic in a second color. This helps one to distinguish relationships among separate pieces of information. Or, all terms may be marked in one color, all names of significant people in another color, all dates in another color, and so on.

Restructure your notes

Recopying and reorganizing notes aids in exam preparation in three ways. First, it helps students identify main points and supporting details discussed in class. Second, it helps students structure the information in such a way that it is more easily recalled and organized during the test; this is especially important for essay exams. Third, it provides the student with opportunities for reviewing the test material; the more times one goes over the information, the more likely one is to remember it.

Memorization strategies

Every test necessitates memorization to some extent. Tests in lower classes are often designed to evaluate the students’ ability to remember details and concepts. Tests in advanced courses, on the other hand, may require more interpretation and application than memorization. Some of the main points related to test preparation are outlined here.

Paraphrase the information

Paraphrasing involves restating the information from the notes or reading in one’s own words. It is easier to remember one’s own words than someone else’s. Just be sure that the paraphrased information is accurate and contains the key words necessary for understanding the information.

Focus on key words

The key words are those words that are necessary for understanding the term or concept. Underline or highlight these words and focus on them when studying. This reduces the amount of information to be remembered. Identifying and memorizing the key words while learning definitions of vocabulary terms or explanations of concepts, helps a lot.

Use memory techniques

Select memory techniques appropriate for the information, the type of test, and personal learning preferences. Some memory techniques are outlined below.

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Association

Associate the new information with prior knowledge and experiences

Rehearsal

Go over the information repeatedly, reciting aloud or taking notes

Relevance

Consider how the information is related to personal beliefs and experiences or to other aspects of the course

Mnemonics

Use abbreviated words or phrases to remember lists of information

Clustering

Group ideas according to common characteristics

Practice tests and workbooks

The most proven, yet least used, way to study for exams is practice tests. Sample questions allow one to assess one’s retrieval success before the exam; areas of weakness are identified and addressed prior to taking the actual test. Students may make up their own questions, or they may answer questions on old tests or in the textbook or student workbook accompanying the text.

Practice tests have many benefits. This strategy may be used to prepare for nearly any type of test. They help one to anticipate what the test may look like, reducing anxiety and stress. Practice tests are a valuable way to assess one understands of the information, distinguishing what is known and what needs to be learned. Writing one’s own questions requires that one thoroughly understand and evaluate the information. When used effectively, practice tests improve one’s mental preparation for an exam, sustaining confidence and positive attitudes.

Finally, writing and/or answering practice questions forces one to repeatedly review the material, which enhances memory registration and recall. Some students may complain that making up and/or answering practice questions is time consuming. However, the advantages of the strategy greatly outnumber the disadvantages. If time is a concern, students may form study groups for sharing the responsibility. Each member writes some questions, and the group meets to exchange and answer the questions.

We at Wellness Hub provide career counselling services along with various kinds of online and offline counseling services.


Prof. Madhu Kosuri

I have completed 30 years of teaching and research in psychology at the Department of Psychology and Parapsychology, Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, India.

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