7 things to help you prepare for exams

It is very unlikely that anyone prefers exams to classes, but let’s face it we need to pass the exams if you want to earn your degree!!
Exams are stressful, a lot of work and all-in-all a fact of life. When people leave school after 12, 13, 14 years of school, they are often led into a false sense of security that their lives will be free from study and exams for ever.

The bottom line is that no matter what you do, in this day and age you are always going to be in a situation where you will have to do some sort of exam: whether it is to get your license to drive a car, to get a promotion at work or to get a University degree … You are always going to be faced with having to do some sort of exam.

Even at a computer training center, when you come to learn how to use Microsoft Office you have the opportunity to gain a certificate from Microsoft in using Microsoft Office, but in order to get it, you still have to do an exam.

It is important to know that there are certain things you can do to help you prepare for you exams and give you a better chance of passing.

1. Read all the material provided after lectures

The number one mistake people make when they come and do any training, including computer training is that do not re-read and go through all the material they covered during the lectures. If you do a one day computer training course, you need to go back through all the material within seven days. This is the most effective way to remember the learned.


There is lots of scientific research that has been undertaken that shows, if you do not reinforce the material you have learned within seven days of first hearing it, you will forget 50% of that knowledge within the next seven days.

If you do not review the material within 21 days you will loose 50% of the 50% left, which is only 25% of the material covered.

Some of the researches I have read, show that for every 7 days you leave reviewing the material you keep loosing 50% of the remaining knowledge. If you do not review the material, the retained knowledge will be virtually none, which means you have wasted you time in attending the course in the first place.

Have you ever been to one of those tax or financial planning seminars?

Have you noticed that they only give you enough information to remember the good things, without giving you a training pack to remind you of the potential flaws of their services? That is because they use the same issues outlined earlier, in which, as time goes on, you will only remember the things you have reinforced.

2. Redo all the practical exercises

With many courses that you study in traditional schools or online, there will be practical exercises. For example, when you are doing the computer training courses, you will do a little bit of theory and then a practical exercise. It is extremely important that, when you leave your training, you go back through those practical exercises, as they will help reinforce the theory you have learnt.

Another example for university student: if you were studying biology or chemistry, one of the requirements you have is to do certain experiments in a lab. This is why it is absolutely essential that you practice those exercises, as they will help you reinforce the theory you have learned. In University studies, most faculties will allow you to book lab time to practice your exercises outside the normal lecture time.

When doing a course online, you can repeat the practical part as many times as needed, making the same experiment at home or just going through the details on the video practical exercise.

3. Do a minimum of 4 hours study weekly for each subject

How much study we should be doing each week? In reality, it really does depend on the course you are doing. For example, if you are studying medicine or law, you will find that you need almost the same amount of time to study, as you attend lectures, so you are looking at 40 hours of study time per week.

For computer training courses or IT courses, where you are studying for Certifications, you will find that if you allocate 4 hours per week per subject, it will be sufficient to study the material and to become proficient at it. The study period does not include doing your practical exercises, the study period is in addition.

4. Have light music on while studing

If you listen to the right music, it can in increase your ability to retain the material you are studying. Baroque music at 60 beats per minute causes your brain to produce more alpha [calmness] waves, both left and right sides of your brain.

This means that you calm down and relax, in a way similar to when you whistle a happy tune, or when you daydream. This “alpha” state of mind is ideal for learning, creativity, or just relaxing. Baroque music also makes the perfect background music for all trainings, from pre-school to government “think-tanks”, i.e. it seems to slow the student down, so that they can think.

Corporate trainers can improve the effectiveness of training sessions dramatically, by playing Baroque music during a session. A colleague uses the music as background for memory training seminars and swears by it, because recall and creativity are improved.

You can listen to Baroque music before you actually attend your exam, as this will help you to improve you calmness and focus before undertaking the exam. As you have used this music during your study program, it will help you prompt the material to come to the forefront of you mind.

5. Review previous exams

This is one of the most important things every person must do prior sitting at an exam. Review as many previous exams as you can. In most university courses, you will find that each year, the lecturer will in fact lodge the previous year’s exams in the library, for use by the students. Have a copy of the exam exams, if possible and then study them as much as possible. Some universities and colleges allow you to do this, others do not, but you can always find test from different schools and exercise books for practicing the subject.

There are a few key reasons for doing this: the previous exams will give you an insight into the way the lecturers structure the exam questions and will enable you with a very good indication of the sorts of questions that lecturers are likely to put on the exams, especially if you have three or four years worth of past exam papers.

For example, if you are studying Microsoft Certifications or IT Certifications, my strong recommendation is that you access pre-assessment material from companies like Self-Test Software or Transcender, as they are a really good representation of the sorts of questions you will face in the actual exams.

One thing to note is that you do not to rely just on the questions in those pre-assessment exams as if you do, you will not pass the exam. The pre-assessment exams are simply indicators of the material you need to know and whether you have a good understanding of the material. They definitely do not guarantee a pass. Too many students rely on these types of material only. They fail, because the exams have changed or have new areas not originally covered. Always check out the curriculum for the exam and make sure that you know all the areas the curriculum specifies. Never assume that certain things will be, or might be in the exams, as you most certainly will be wrong.

6. Have a colleague write practice exams and questions

If you are doing a long term study at a college or University, it is always worthwhile to try to form a study group. In online studies, you can join these types of groups as well. If you are working in a corporate environment and working in a team that is doing a study, try to form a study group to help you with studies. In this manner you can work together and have a series of practical exams and questions for each other to try to answer.

The key with passing any exam is practice. The more practice you have and exposure to the various ways questions could be possibly structured, the more likely you will pass the exam.

Getting each person in you study group, to write practice exams and questions also helps them, since they need to know the correct answer and how to structure the correct answer. This helps reinforce the material for them.

If you are studying in a corporate environment and you have people who have done the exams in the past, ask them to write a set of practice exams. It is even better if you could get three or four colleagues to actually write some practice exams for you, as they will give you such a variation that you will be able to identify areas you may not have covered sufficiently.

7. Meditate

Whilst meditation has certainly been a thing of fringe groups in western society or associated with more eastern religions, many researchers are now coming to the distinct conclusion that meditation can make a huge difference to our day-to-day lives.

The core advantage meditation will have in your studies, is to help you to relax. The more relaxed you are, the more creative you become and the easier it will be to learn the material for the exam. When you are meditating, use baroque music with your meditation, as it will help increase the alpha waves, which will help lead you to a calm feeling.

The bottom line that there is no shortcut to conquering exams. They do not have to be a life and death struggle, if you put the work in.

There is no fool proof way to pass exam. Putting the work in will, certainly means you should see much better exam results and hopefully the outcomes you are looking for.

To highlight once again the seven things you should do to help you prepare before an upcoming exams.

  1. Make sure you read all the materials after lectures
  2. Redo all practical exercises
  3. Do at least 4 hour study per week per subject
  4. During studying have light music on
  5. Review previous exams
  6. Have a colleague write practice exams and questions for you
  7. Take time to meditate

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