Some Tips To Help You Get A High Score On Your Next Exam

May 19, 2023

Photo Courtesy of Brighton College.

Photo Courtesy of Brighton College.

As every student knows, your test scores are almost 99.99% of the time determined by the amount of effort you put into studying for them. And with finals coming up, many realize it’s a doozy trying to study for every class when it feels like there is too much to study and not enough time to do so. If this is you, look no further. Here are some of the best techniques to help you study for your future exams (shoutout to those studying for finals!) and maximize your grade by “working smarter” and “not harder:”


     1. Don’t Cram 


This might seem like an obvious piece and a situation you think you can avoid. But remember, cramming or saving for even the very last few days before the exams is too much to take on. Spacing out your time between a week or even two may seem very time consuming, but it gets the job done. 

I remember preparing for the US History Exam by dedicating a day to a unit, then finishing off by rewatching review videos and learning any vocabulary the video explained that I did not catch. By maximizing my time spent on studying, I felt much more confident in the material I was learning and a whole lot less stressed on the time I had left. I was also able to recall topics easily because I had spent the day studying them repeatedly. 

Perhaps a whole week seems like a “24/7” type of deal–it’s not! Setting up a longer study period doesn’t necessarily mean studying for 10 hours a day; studying bit by bit is easier for you and gives you free time for you and your brain to recuperate. 


     2. Study The Things You Don’t Understand


It seems strange because you are supposed to be reviewing everything you know, but think about it like painting a picture; maybe part of the picture looks amazing but there’s that one corner that just seems a little out of place–you wouldn’t spend your time trying to fix the entire portrait, but rather target that one area that seems to be bothering you. Either way, you have put effort into the entire picture, but also succeeded in fixing up the mistakes you have made. 

That’s basically what this method does. By selecting specific concepts, questions, and/or equations you might not understand, you maximize your potential for answering those questions right on a real life exam. 


     3. The Pomodoro Effect


Maybe you’re looking for an actual method because you don’t have an organized way to study. This is a personal favorite of mine. I remember hearing about it and thinking that because it had repeating sessions with so little time in between them for breaks it would cause burnout quickly. 

Let me explain:

In the 1990’s a developer/entrepreneur Franesco Cirillo invented the Pomodoro technique, which he cleverly named after his tomato shaped timer. In this session, participants study for a duration of 20-25 minutes, take a break for 5 minutes, then resume the cycle over again. After every four “pomodoros”, rest for a longer interval of 15-20 minutes. 

These short breaks help “keep your attention span on track” and the longer study sessions trick “your brain’s incentives for reward” according to the Focus Booster app. So, you are literally tricking your brain into focusing more for the entire duration just so you can garner the benefits.

According to CSU Global, this technique has been proven to lead to “increased levels of productivity…less fatigue and mental exhaustion at the end of the day, and a confidence boost feeling of accomplishment.” 

This is a great first step for anyone who is looking to start off studying in the most effective way possible. 


     4. And Most Importantly…Take Breaks


I know, I know, I spent most of the article talking about how important it is to put in the work. And it is–but the most important part in this process is also knowing that breaks are not only beneficial to restarting your path to success, but also to you and your health. As someone once put, “Overworking and over exerting one’s self tends to speed up the burning of a candle until there is little left to burn and work with… and left behind in its place will be feelings of emptiness and exhaustion,” Nadia Aldwieb, the WHS Viking Times. 

Take breaks; workout, scroll, through your phone, eat, hydrate, talk with friends and family. It all helps! Make time for yourself just as you have for your grades.

Trying your hardest doesn’t always have to mean forcing information into your brain. By making studying a relaxing environment and one that you are comfortable with, you are able to take in information easily and use it to your advantage. I hope this helps and good luck to anyone taking the finals! You got this! 

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