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How To Effectively Study For Exams

How To Effectively Study For Exams

When preparing for tests, there are various strategies that can help you develop a deep understanding of lesson material.  This level of understanding is especially critical for success in math and science.  The private tutoring professionals at Action Potential Learning have outlined some of these strategies in a new article; so make sure you use these tips when preparing for your next exam.

Understand the content the first time: When you are reading over your notes, be very careful not to read passively. Make sure you read every sentence or note thoroughly, then stop, and make sure you understand what you have just read. If you don’t fully get a concept, don’t move on! Use extra resources like Wikipedia, your textbook, or a friend, parent, or tutor to help you understand the content. Move through your entire set of notes in the manner. After reading your notes one time, you should be able to articulate the general idea of each subject. This is the time when study groups work well, because you give yourself the opportunity to explain content to others.

This step is the most time consuming part of your study session, so set a realistic goal for yourself (example; I will study for one hour straight before taking a break) to ensure you take steps to pay attention to the material in detail.

Highlight your notes: After understanding the content in each section of your notes, make a second pass over your notes, this time, highlighting important details. You should only highlight tricky definitions, hard to memorize equations, and confusing statements. These should be areas where you need to focus on memorizing because you should already understand the entire content within your notes.

Re-write your notes into outline form: Only re-write the highlighted sections of your notes. You should choose a format that helps you learn best, and you should organize these highlighted notes into easy- to- memorize chunks of information. Consider using abbreviations and images, boxes/ circles and connecting lines, and an array of colors to help you focus on the material (see the article image for an example).

Connect your outline: This is a key step in understanding the relationship between the different content areas in your notes. Connect key ideas, phrases, and vocabulary in your re-written notes. Sometimes, you may need to dig deep to find connections, and you should again use multiple sources to make sure you fully understand the relationships within your notes. Use connecting lines and various colors from one concept to another, and write in small keywords or phrases on the lines to help you remember the connection.

Memorize your outline: Your outline should fit onto one or two pieces of paper, so it is easy to carry around and review at various times throughout your day. Focus on visualizing the various colors, boxes, and connections you have drawn to help paint an image in your mind for test day.

These tips work best for notes that are heavy in content and vocabulary and that require you to apply and extend memorized information on your test. With practice, you will hone your critical thinking skills and better prepare yourself for complex tests.


Article written by Shayna L. Pond and Action Potential Learning


Action Potential Learning provides private tutoring in math and science as well as standardized test prep. As math and science specialists, our tutors know and understand difficult math and science concepts and can help you improve your grades and perform on standardized tests.

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