How to Prepare for Exams

Most people find that studying for an exam and doing well on it is challenging. Even so, there is always a case of one student excelling in everything, even without prior preparation. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy for everyone else. I know because I’ve been there myself. As soon as you reach 6th grade (or even earlier depending on your standards), studying suddenly becomes challenging. However, it need not be that way! My academic success has been attributed to a number of strategies I have adopted since then. Exam preparation is a challenging task, so let’s discuss and explore the different ways we can go about it.

Prepare Ahead

Don’t wait until the exam week.

You probably have heard a million times that early preparation leads to excellent results. Well, that’s an unquestionable truth. Don’t wait until the exam is about to start before you start preparing. Although for some people, that’s the best way for them to pass an exam. However, we all differ in many aspects. Therefore, whatever works for J will probably not work for H. So, rather than relying on the cramming method, prepare for yourself a timetable.

A self timetable is quite efficient. In your timetable, write out the different subjects for which an exam will be given and fix a date for when to consider each subject. Remember to make reading your routine. Although you might have to attach more importance to some subjects but at the same time endeavor to give attention to other subjects as well. So when the exam is just around the corner, you only have to do a bit of revision.

Study Exam Past Questions

When preparing for an exam, try to study past the questions. The more information you take in, the harder it will be to remember every single fact. For this reason, you should always aim to try and understand why things are the way they are. This is what psychologists call elaboration. To thoroughly learn something, you have to dive deeper into the content laid out and understand it in a thorough manner. It’s an effective method that’ll help you get used to how questions are presented, as well. You can also use past versions of questions to prepare yourself for the speculated time to be used on each question. You can do this by timing yourself. 

Use Visual Aids

Use visual aids like drawings and flashcards. After taking notes from study guides or lectures, use key information to make flashcards. You can also make little drawings (like funny little characters with informational words) that will make the key information come to mind easily. 

Some of the things to write on flashcards are questions. You can make questions out of statements. Questions let you know if you still recall what you’ve learned, or maybe you need to relearn and assimilate. Questions lead to questions, which makes you learn more and prepare you effectively for exams.

Organize your study space

Your study pace plays an important role, so while you arrange where to study, ensure it is well detailed. You should have a well-lit studying space, you should have enough space to place your books on, and a suitable chair to sit on. One thing to remember is to get rid of any unnecessary thing that could divert your attention. Let your study time be your study time without any distractions or inconveniences. It is also important to feel relaxed when studying. Some people like the sound of soft music when studying because it makes them concentrate easily. However, music might not be what you necessarily need. A quiet environment might be. Once you feel relaxed and concentrated when studying, it makes it easy to grab and digest what you learn.

Get help from others

You could use the help of someone. Your siblings, mom, dad, or your friends are who you can turn to. What you need from them is their time and an ear to listen. Once you get these from them, explain your answers. Explaining answers to others keeps your brain fresh. This method of preparation is so effective because it helps you to be true to yourself. Once you get stuck and find it hard to explain your answers, you can tell if you need to revise. In this way, you get to work and concentrate on areas you’re lacking. 

Form a Study Group

Study groups are an excellent way to improve learning. They enable members to share their insights and learn from one another, as well as to clarify confusing concepts. In addition to completing projects and making presentations, study groups are particularly helpful when preparing for exams. Forming a study group is as simple as scheduling time to meet with friends and learn together. Most times, it is always a vice versa scenario. That implies that you may be able to answer questions they find hard, and they may also be able to answer questions that you are confused about. Once you all keep to a specified amount of time and stay focused throughout the study time, it can be a very efficient way to get yourselves ready for exams.

Munch on some snacks

When studying, it’s normal to feel like you need something to munch on. No doubt, you feel attached to sugary things, but it’s important to know that what you consume can impact your focus. So pay attention to what you eat. Rather than going for junk food, go for nutritious food that’ll help you focus and also assist the brain. Even on exam days, you have to eat healthy food. When you do this, you are preparing the way for good results.

If you’re studying for an exam, these foods are excellent choices. They’re linked to improved brain health.

  • Berries
  • Citrus fruits
  • Dark chocolate (cocoa products)
  • Nuts
  • Eggs
  • Avocados
  • Beets
  • Red, green, and orange vegetables

Consider adding some of the foods on this list to your diet if you want to enhance your mental performance and improve your overall health.

Take some time off

Remember, it’s okay to take some time off. Since the human brain is not a robot, it needs to be relaxed at intervals. You may feel that studying for longer hours will yield better results. However, that’s not always true. It might be the best method for someone else but not for you. Rather than favorable results, you may get exhausted. This may cause you to barely remember all you’ve studied. So once again, take breaks. When you do, you refresh your brain, and you’ll be able to retain all information.

Taking regular breaks can allow you to maintain the following:

  • Motivation: A large amount of material needs to be covered in a short amount of time, so it can be overwhelming to feel motivated to study. You can motivate yourself to accomplish your tasks more efficiently by taking frequent breaks to relax.
  • Productivity: It may be beneficial for you to commit to studying efficiently if you are looking forward to a break. Additionally, if you take breaks during your study session, you’ll have enough energy to come back to it later with a positive attitude.
  • Focus: When studying for a long time, it can be difficult to stay focused. As a result, taking breaks could help you relax temporarily and then come back to your studies refreshed and ready.

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated has proven to be a key step. Studies show that drinking water before an exam may help you perform better. Here’s what you need to do: Drink plenty of water. When preparing for exams, drink water and when the exam day finally comes, also drink plenty of water. By staying hydrated, you help boost your mood as well as your brain. In addition to helping you keep focused during exam time, staying adequately hydrated also helps avoid headaches.


Exams are the time to show your instructor what you know and learned throughout the course. It’s probably also the worst time for you, especially due to the amount of stress it causes. However, by just setting time to prepare adequately, you would feel ready and also retain more information in the long run. If you strive to follow the above preparations carefully, you can make the best out of exams. After all, exams are usually unavoidable.

You can also try out other options that have helped others perform well at exams. The methods are endless. Please share in the comments which tips you found most useful, or if you have anything to add. We would love to know.

Akshay Dinesh

As a student, I am passionate about writing articles that educate and guide others. I have a diverse range of interests and try to cover a variety of topics in my writing. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at akshay[at]


  • Hey, Akshay.. I agree with you; myself I have started to implement the Pomodoro method to my studies, and it has proved to be really beneficial. Do you have any other recommendations?

    • It is suggested that you also have proper time management. Learn to set goals correctly—set goals that are achievable and measurable. Prioritize the time wisely—prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency. Set a time limit to complete a task (while also taking breaks between these tasks), organize yourself, remove non-essential tasks/activities, and most importantly, always plan ahead. If you implement these tips, most certainly you would be able to study and effectively manage the rigor.

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