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Test Preparation

Test Preparation Tips

To do well on tests you must first learn the material, and then review it before the test. These are techniques to better understand your material:


  • Take good notes in your class lectures and textbooks
    See the Guides on Taking notes in Lectures
    (and Taking notes from a textbook!)
  • Review your notes soon after class/lecture
  • Review notes briefly before the next class
  • Schedule some time at the end of the week for a longer review


  • Take good notes
    about as your teacher tells you what will be on the test
  • Organize your notes, texts, and assignments
    according to what will be on the test
  • Estimate the hours you'll need to review materials
  • Draw up a schedule
    that blocks units of time and material
  • Test yourself on the material
  • Finish your studying the day before the exam

Anticipating Test Content

Pay particular attention to any study guides
that the instructor hands out in class before the exam, or even at the beginning of the course! For example: key points, particular chapters or parts of chapters, handouts, etc.

Ask the instructor what to anticipate on the test
if he/she does not volunteer the information

Pay particular attention--just prior to the exam--
to points the instructor brings up during class lectures

Generate a list of possible questions
you would ask if you were making the exam, then see if you can answer the questions

Review previous tests
graded by the instructor

Confer with other students
to predict what will be on the test

Pay particular attention to clues
that indicate an instructor might test for a particular idea, as when an instructor:

  • says something more than once
  • writes material on the board
  • pauses to review notes
  • asks questions of the class
  • says, "This will be on the test!"

Review Tools for Tests

  • Create study checklists
    Identify all of the material that you will be tested on-- list notes, formulas, ideas, and text assignments you are accountable for.
    This checklist will enable you to break your studying into organized, manageable chunks, which should allow for a comprehensive review plan with minimal anxiety
  • Create summary notes and "maps"
    Briefly map out (see mapping) the important ideas of the course and the relationships of these ideas. Summary notes should display lists and hierarchies of ideas.
    Creativity and a visual framework will help you recall these ideas.
  • Record your notes
    and significant portions of text on audio tapes so you can review material with a walk-man.
    Having a tape of important information will enable you to study while walking or relaxing in a nonacademic environment
  • Create flashcards
    for definitions, formulas, or lists that you need to have memorized--put topics on one side of the card, answers on the other.
    Flashcards will enable you to test your ability to not only recognize important information, but also your ability to retrieve information from scratch