Clare Written by Clare (she/her), student

I'll admit, in high school I didn't study well for exams – I didn’t know how to!

Since then, I've learned a lot about how I like to study, and what I need to do to feel prepared for an exam. Here's what works for me, and I hope it helps you figure out what works for you!

Planning is everything

For me, if I don't plan what and when I'm going to study, I usually end up leaving it to the last minute. I find it helpful to plan out a study schedule about a week or two before an exam, setting aside little chunks of time for when I want to study, as well as what I want to accomplish during those times. Doing this, I can rest assured that I will get my work done without having to do it all in one sitting.

Before I get to studying, I like to review what chapters or material I'm going to be tested on. I also try to think like my prof. What have they emphasized during class? What questions are they likely to ask and do I know the answer?

Trying different study techniques made me realize what worked for me and what didn’t.

Find what works for you

When I first started university, I watched how the people around me were studying. This meant that I would rewrite my notes, do practice problems, and use flashcards. Trying different study techniques made me realize what worked for me and what didn’t.

Now I know that I'm definitely not a flashcard person, but I also know that doing practice problems really helps me out. I encourage you to try out a few different study methods, and find the one that works best for you!

Pile of flash cards on wooden table

My roommate uses flashcards to help her learn class material.

You aren't procrastinating by checking out these resources. We promise.


Try to limit distractions

Find a place that helps you focus and study. It could be your kitchen table, the library, a classroom no one is using, or a coffee shop with wifi (or no wifi, depending on your preferences).

I have a few go-to places and I find rotating between them and sometimes exploring new places helps me to stay focused.

I also try to put my cell phone away when I'm studying. Jocelyn, another ambassador, uses different apps to help her stay focused (e.g., turning off her notifications and timing her study breaks - or when to buy that next coffee).

I try my best to get seven or eight hours of sleep the night before an exam.

Have a good pre-exam ritual

Water bottle

Water can help you stay hydrated and focused in exams.

I try my best to get seven or eight hours of sleep the night before an exam. To really feel confident for an exam, I like to go through a little pre-exam ritual. This doesn't mean studying right up to the moment of the exam, but rather taking some time to "get in the zone" beforehand.

Personally, I like to listen to some bubbly music (Carly Rae Jepsen, anyone?) and make sure I have all the supplies I need.

I heard once that students who drink water during an exam do up to 5% better, so I always make sure I have water, and I study up to 5% less. Just kidding! But I do always bring water to an exam.

After I have everything I need, I get to the exam location nice and early and try to relax before the test.

So, that is what works for me in preparing for my exams. I hope some of my tips help you, and good luck on your upcoming tests and exams!



Related articles