For many high school students, summer is in sight—but before you can venture to the beach, spend time with friends, and lounge by the pool, you must first study and take your final exams. Test-taking can be a source of anxiety, particularly as many students worry about their year-end grades. However, the right preparation can increase your confidence and make test day less intimidating. Here are three tips to guide your preparation and ensure that you set yourself up for success on your final exams:
1. Create a structured study plan.
One of the key components in preparing for exams is creating a strategic study plan. Start by organizing your study materials and breaking down your topics or subjects into manageable sections. Allocate specific time slots to review each subject or topic, ensuring that you have sufficient time to study everything. Start with the material that you feel the least confident in, as this will likely require more focus and practice. Starting early is key—rather than cramming all of your studying into the one or two days that precede test day, spread out your review so that you are better poised to retain the information. Once you have created a plan, be sure to write it down and share it with a friend or family member who can check in with you and ensure that you are staying on track. If you make changes to your schedule or choose to forego your study time on a particular day, be sure to adjust your plan to go over the missed material at another time.
In addition, consider your learning style and personal preferences when designing your study plan. Some students benefit from short study sessions with frequent breaks, while others prefer longer study periods with fewer interruptions. Experiment with different study techniques, such as active reading, summarizing information, creating flashcards, or teaching the material to someone else until you find one that works best for you.
2. Experiment with different techniques.
In addition to a structured study plan, finding the most effective study techniques for your learning style will greatly enhance your test prep. If you are a visual learner, consider taking written notes or creating concept maps or diagrams. Students who have anxiety about test-taking should find or create practice tests or questions and time themselves as they answer them to become more comfortable with the format of the exam. Students who learn best from dialogue and collaboration may choose to assemble a study group where they can discuss concepts with their peers and work through questions as a team to reinforce their knowledge. This option may be challenging if you are easily distracted, so be sure that everyone stays focused if you form a study group.
While it may seem counterintuitive, it is essential to take regular breaks as you study. Short breaks will not only help you to process and retain the information you have covered, but they can also help you resist frustration or burnout as you review material. Coming back to a challenging concept or dense material with fresh eyes can make all the difference in your level of comprehension.
3. Prioritize self-care.
While studying for exams is important, it is essential to reserve time to check in with yourself and recharge your mind and body. This is not only an important life skill to preserve your emotional wellbeing, but it is also a critical component of test preparation that will help your mind stay sharp and retain the material you review. First and foremost, make sure that you are getting a good night of sleep every night. Strive to get eight hours of sleep—resist the urge to scroll on your phone in bed and don’t get in bed too late, as this will likely interrupt your body’s sleep patterns. Additionally, staying physically active will help your mind remain active. Incorporate some degree of physical activity into your routine—whether an exercise class, a walk, or even just a few jumping jacks or stretches before you begin your study sessions.
Finally, remember to take inventory of your stress levels at the end of each study session and be sure that you have the tools to cope with the anxiety or stress you may be feeling. Consider implementing relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, meditation, or positive visualization into your study sessions to ease your stress. If you find that your negative feelings are becoming severe, don’t hesitate to reach out to a friend, family member, or school guidance counselor for help.
For more tips to increase your productivity as you prepare for your exams, check out Command Education’s comprehensive guide!