Top 10 Test Prep Strategies

  1. Start studying for exams at least 5 days ahead of time. This allows time for the information to sink in and become memorized, as well as gives you time to get extra help if you get stuck. Use the 5-Day Test Prep Method (a classic). Don’t procrastinate your test prep!
  2. Proactively do tutoring. Set it up (it’s free through CSAS) in advance and use it to your advantage to maximize your preparation.
  3. Use a planner and stick to your schedule. Get organized and set aside blocks of time every day for studying—that will help hold you accountable and make sure you put in the test prep time.
  4. Practice makes permanent. Work problems, rewrite notes, review the textbook: repetition will help you learn.
  5. Find a place to study that works well for you. Do you need it quiet? Do you like some ambient noise? How tidy does the area need to be? Find a good location—here are some places on campus to try.
  6. Recreate the test environment and practice. Time yourself and make yourself work sample problems or answer questions in that time frame. Go to a classroom if you can. The more you can mimic the actual test environment and desensitize yourself to anxiety about it, the less stressed you will be on Test Day.
  7. Identify your peak performance time of day and capitalize on this. Are you more alert and focused in the morning, evening, afternoon? Put in your study time during this time of day.
  8. Take a 10-15 minute break for each 45 minutes of study time. Do something active during this time (take a quick walk, stretch, jog)—don’t get on your phone or computer and get distracted. Your brain needs time to reset after studying hard, so give it this time and then get back to it.
  9. Break your studying into chunks. Thinking about studying the whole textbook can be overwhelming and lead to avoidance. Break your studying into manageable chunks that you will do.
  10. Talk to your professor. Go to office hours and ask questions about the exam and structure, and find out how they recommend you best prepare. They are the best source for helping you get ready.