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The Ultimate Guide to Studying For Tests and Exams

Looking for the best way to study for that upcoming exam? This page is full of test-taking strategies, study tips, and other useful resources that will help you along the way.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve published a ton of content related to succeeding on tests and exams, covering topics including revision schedules, test anxiety, active review strategies, and more.

Since new people discover College Info Geek every day and might not know about all of these resources, I figured it’d be a good idea to collect them all in one place. As I publish more resources, I’ll add them here.

Test-Taking Strategies

  • Ace Your Next Exam: 10 Revision and Test-Taking Tips – This collection of tips fits into both of the first two categories on this page, but I wanted to feature it first since contains a ton of ideas and content you’ll probably find helpful.
  • How to Stop Making Dumb Mistakes on Exams – A lack of preparation will kill your exam grades faster than anything else, but careless mistakes can easily chip away at them as well. This video will help prime your brain to catch these kinds of mistakes before they happen.
  • 5 Strategies That Make Test Anxiety Irrelevant – Test anxiety can make taking an exam a dreadful experience, but it can also literally block your brain from making connections and remembering information. However, it’s something you can fight. This video gives you several strategies for doing just that.
  • Confidence Tracking: A Brain Hack for Improving Your Exam Grades – When you’re unsure about an answer you’ve written on a test, research has shown that you should change it. More often than not, people who do this end up being correct. However, a recent study has unearthed an elegant technique that makes the catch-all “when in doubt, change it” advice obsolete, and it’s called confidence tracking.
  • How to Improve Your Grades on Multiple Choice Tests – If you’re going up against a test with a multiple-choice component, check out this article for some strategies for recalling answers, avoiding mistakes, and exploiting statistics to improve your chance of guessing the correct answer when you come across a question and totally draw a blank.
  • 5 Rules for Answering Essay Questions on Exams – Like multiple choice questions, essay questions can be tackled in a strategic way that sets you up for success.

Studying and Revision Tips

  • How to Create a Study Schedule for Your Final Exams – Your exam preparation efforts will be most effective if they’re well-coordinated from the start, especially if you want to leverage the benefits of spaced repetition (which you’ll find out more about below). This video guides you through the process of creating and maintaining a well-oiled study schedule.
  • How to Prepare for Exams Like A Pro: The Exam Prep Cycle – This excellent guest post by my friend Tom Miller digs deeply into the process of creating and taking practice quizzes, which is one of the absolute BEST techniques for mastering the content you’ll be tested on.
  • How To Ace Your Final Exams – My first video on preparing for finals. Covers the Forgetting Curve, where to find practice exams, how to stay motivated, and more.
  • 8 Better Ways to Make and Study Flash Cards – Flash cards are an excellent tool for studying factual information, and this video will help you use them to their fullest possible extent. Also, in terms of editing, this is the video I’m most proud of.
  • How to Get Better at Math (While Spending Less Time Studying) – Even if you think you aren’t a “math person,” this video and post will prove you wrong. Learn how to apply spaced repetition techniques and deep focus to master math concepts.
  • How to Remember More of What You Learn by Leveraging the Spacing Effect – Your brain encodes information much more efficiently when you add increasingly large intervals of time between your study sessions. This video shows you exactly how you can do that, both with paper flash cards and digital tools.
  • How to Finish a Huge Assignment or Project Overnight – The weeks leading up to finals are usually full of time crunches. Not only do you have a ton of exams to study for, but you’ve probably also got projects and homework to finish at the same time. This video will help you stay afloat.
  • Use The Corson Technique When Asking Professors For Help – At some point during your test preparation phase, you’ll probably need to ask a professor for help or clarification on something. By using the technique outlined in this article, you’ll make the interaction much more productive and leave a good impression to boot.
  • The Mutant Guide To Studying For Finals – How do you think the X-Men would prepare for exams? I mean… they do live in a school, after all. It’s a legitimate question.

Focus, Motivation, and Mental Health Tips

  • Stop Saying, “I Don’t Feel Like It.” – Professionals do their work on a schedule, regardless of whether they “feel like it” or not. This video reminds you that you have a CHOICE of whether or not you succumb to these types of feelings.
  • What to Do When You Have No Motivation to Study – A quick video on my motivation philosophy. If you’re not able to summon the motivation to study internally, then you need to build external systems that impose limitations, measurements, rewards, and consequences.
  • 5 Methods for Focusing and Concentrating Effectively – Strong test preparation happens when you’re deeply focused. These strategies will help you get yourself into the flow state, avoid distraction, and maintain concentration.
  • Want to Be Healthier and More Productive? Take Regular Breaks – Humans aren’t like computers; we operate best on a cycle of work and rest. And while the most important part of rest is probably sleep, it’s also vital that you take breaks throughout your workday as well. This article will help you schedule them strategically, use them well, and avoid pitfalls that can turn a break into an extended procrastination binge.
  • So You Failed a Test… or a Whole Semester. What Now? – It happens to all of us at one point or another; failure is simply a part of life. Should you fail something this semester, this video will help you cope with the defeat and come back stronger than ever.

A Podcast Playlist for Finals

  • A Giant Boatload of Final Exam Tips – This episode is basically an audio version of this very page; in it, Martin and I sit down and go through a ton of different strategies for performing well on final exams.
  • Deep Work: How to Focus and Resist Distractions – This is the most popular College Info Geek Podcast episode of all time, and for good reason. By cultivating a habit of doing deep work, you’ll learn faster and achieve more in less time. In this episode, Deep Work author Cal Newport and I talk in depth about how to build this habit.
  • How to Make a Comeback and Save Your Grades – If you’ve fallen behind or let your grades slip, now’s the time to start taking action toward making a comeback. This episode is loaded with practical advice for making it happen.
  • How to Get Better Test Scores Through Confidence Tracking – An interview with Justin Couchman, the psychology professor who conducted the research on the confidence tracking technique. If you watched the video on confidence tracking and want more detail on why it works, give this a listen.

Study with Me

Need someone to study with as you prepare for your exams? Honestly, I’d recommend grabbing a real-life study partner – you can enlist them to slap you in the face when you get distracted from studying and wander over to Facebook.

In the absence of a flesh-and-blood study buddy, though, you might find this video helpful!

If you happen to need some study music as well, check out my Ultimate Study Music Playlist.

Good luck, and study hard!