Exams can be stressful. The key to success is applying discipline and good planning to one's studying. If you've got an upcoming exam for school, college entry, or professional licensing or accreditation, use this guide to help you prepare a strong exam success plan.
The most important aspect of a good plan is to start early and giving yourself enough time to study and review the information, as well as taking practice exams. To figure out how much time you need, review the coursework and start dividing and categorizing. Here are some of the key questions to consider:
1. How much material needs to be covered?
2. How familiar are you with the material? How difficult is it?
3. What areas am I stronger and weaker? Where may I need help?
4. Are there study guides and other study support materials available?
5. Should I consider co-op group study?
Set a weekly time for studying and then start allocating hours. For some professional licensing exams, this may mean a year's worth of preparation, while other situations may only need a few weeks.
Once you've determined how much preparation time you need, write it on a calendar. Success depends greatly on one's discipline and commitment, writing a plan will help you stick with it. Be reasonable with your expectations. Also, be specific with your study calendar. Don't simply put "study" in a two-hour block. Write down the particular material and coursework that needs to be reviewed. In addition, allocate time for notes review. This type of deliberate planning will not only lead to a more thorough plan, but it is important to see the broad picture so you can be sure your not miss anything important.
For some examinations, such as college entry standardized tests or professional licensing tests, it might be wise to look into a professional exam preparation course. Consider this early in the process, as one's calendar will have to accommodate this time, too. If one cannot commit to a full course, it may be useful to inquire about a one or two-day test preparation seminar, which focuses on test taking strategies that arms you with useful tips to help on the actual exam itself.
Another important component of the calendar and study planning are practice exams. These are crucial for standardized tests and licensing exams as they provide a gauge to progress where it can illuminate weak areas that need more study time. These exams are available in published study guide books as well as online. Take a practice exam early in the process so you leave time in your schedule to make up for deficient areas or adapt your study plan.
Another non-educational aspect to a good study plan is health and nutrition. Be sure that you are eating right and you are getting plenty of rest and some exercise. Exhausting one's mind and body is not a good strategy for exam preparation. Taking exercise or rest breaks are important for memory retention, so put these specifically into your schedule. Don't be quick to change your schedule, but you should know when to adapt too. If you feel you are getting burnt out or bored with the study routine, try a different location, or time of day.
No matter the case, stay on your toes. Every moment you put toward exam preparation will pay off on that very event.