Study Tips

Study Tips


Blog | Live life, love learning

February 16, 2022

How to prepare for your next exam or your next test

Valuable Study Tips: Learn the material beforehand and rest the night before the big test

Imagine it’s the night before the big test. What do you do? a) make flashcards, b) re-read all the material, c) learn new words, or d) relax. If you picked answer choice d, you are correct!

Before I became a teacher, I worked in a special program designed to help students apply to university, and I was trained by Kaplan, a world leader in test preparation. One of the many study tips that I learned was rest is the most important thing to do the night before a big test. It is impossible to learn all the information for a comprehensive test in one night. It must be done in the weeks and months before. For our school with the IGCSEs and IB Diploma exams just months away that time is now. So, here are a few study tips students can use to prepare for the upcoming exams.

Know what you don’t know

With the mock exams behind us, students should know exactly what they need to study to improve. Indeed, this is another study tip: know what you don’t know. It may be tempting to review what you have already mastered, but it is more important to identify what you have not learned. A good way to do this is to make flashcards. Review the words or concepts on the flashcards that you struggle with more often.

Bird by bird

In Anne Lamott’s famous book about writing, Bird by Bird, she describes the way in which her father calmly helped her brother. Her brother was in tears over a huge bird biology project that he had barely started. Her father told him to simply take it bird by bird. Or in other words, study one thing at a time. Leo from grade 5 knows this well. At the start of the unit, I saw that he was really struggling, but by test time, he had mastered the information on his own. When I asked him his secret, he told me, “I learn the words ahead of time then I read my notes over and over again until my brain learns the information.” Simone from grade 10 likes to re-write all of his notes and this gives him the time he needs to absorb all of the material. He then studies one section each day.

Make it your own

At university, I used to draw my own versions of famous artwork like the Mona Lisa to study for my Art History exams. I transformed Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic beauty into a simple stick person with a goofy smile. It was silly but it worked for me! I aced my art history exams, recalling the necessary information from the time I spent learning my own way. Amy from grade 6 likes to video conference before tests so she can talk through the material with friends. She also makes her own personalised notes. Makayla in grade 9 draws her notes and uses colours to highlight the important information. See an example of her fantastic work that is more a masterpiece than it is notes above! You could hang up study sheets around your bedroom, put review questions in a jar on the dining room table, or find youtube videos that have turned the information into a song. Whatever you do, make it your own and have fun!

Have fun, creative, and meaningful study time!

Whether it’s a vocabulary test or your driver’s exam, study skills are a valuable tool you will need throughout your lifetime.I hope all our students learned a thing or two that they can do when preparing for their next test. Instead of wishing the ISS class of 2022 and 2023 good luck on their exams, I will wish them lots of fun, creative, and meaningful study time!

Cherie Parenteau, International Secondary School