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How to Study for Any Test or Exam (Even If You Feel Unmotivated)

Wondering how 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.

How to Study for a Test or Exam

How to Take a Test (and Improve Your Scores)

  • 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.
  • How to Study for (and Take!) Open Book Exams – Open book exams sound easy…until you sit down to take one and realize you’re completely unprepared. This guide will help you make sure your next open book exam goes smoothly.
  • The EXACT Process for Using CLEP Tests to Skip College Courses – CLEP tests can let you skip college courses, saving you a lot of money. Here’s how to use them to get your degree faster.

How to Motivate Yourself to Study

  • 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.
  • How to Motivate Yourself to Study – Here’s a quick, 5-step process to getting the study motivation you need to get to work. You’ll also find some strategies for building long-term motivation.
  • 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.

Get Through Finals with These Study Podcast Episodes

  • 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 lose focus 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!

Image Credits: stack of old books