How to Pass Any Exam or Every Test with Just Four Steps or Techniques
How to Prepare for Any Exam--Even if You're Nervous
There's a lot that goes into preparing for a test. You might feel prepared as far as the material goes, but you may be as nervous as you can be. I've known people who don't do their best because of nerves. That's a shame. If there was a way you could study to help you alleviate those nerves, would you do it?
Sure, if you have an issue with pre-test anxiety, you probably would try different study methods to help lessen those anxious feelings. Knowing your material as well as you think you ever could does a lot in lowering the anxiety level. It does wonders for your mental status. Believe me, I know.
I have taken lots of tests in my life--as an undergraduate in college, as a graduate student, and later in my professional career. My final exam for my master's degree in English literature was a comprehensive oral exam covering the history of the written language from Beowulf to present. Yes, the entire history of written literature. Talk about nervous! I didn't even have an undergraduate degree in English and thus had a lot of catching up to do.
I've taken licensing exams in social work and nursing home administration, the latter of which was one of the most challenging exams I've ever had to take. I was working full-time and studying at night. For about six months, I studied using the four-step method that I had come up with in graduate school.
I'll explain my four-step process: read, write, speak, and listen. Sound pretty basic? Well, it really is, but you have to follow every step. Using this method of studying will help you to mentally prepare yourself to take any exam.
Step #1: Read the material
Reading the material is the common sense way to start studying. Read through all the materials you have to study. In my case, as a graduate student, I read books, plays, short stories, and poetry--reading and reviewing the whole history of literature over the course of two years of my graduate program. I was continually reading, as I had to complete the massive amount of required items on our reading list. I even posted in my house huge sheets of papers with time lines and time periods I needed to learn. These visual reminders were spread throughout my house.
In studying for the exam to be a nursing home administrator, I read any material that I could get my hands on relating to the requirements. I studied the history of personnel and management; the ins and outs of accounting, finance, and budgeting; and state and federal regulations regarding nursing homes. I had volumes of books and study guides to read.
Whether you're studying for a straight-forward chapter test or for an intensive exam where your career is on the line, this four-step study method can help give you confidence and ensure your success.
So, now that you've read all the study material, what's next?
Step #2: Write it down
After reading comes writing. Write it down! You can write in various ways. As you read over your study materials--either the first time or when you review it again--annotate the documents. This just means to underline key passages and make a few notes in the margins to summarize the important stuff. These handwritten notes will draw your attention to what's important every time you review the material. Consider going through the first time and annotating with a certain colored pen or pencil. With your second read-through, use a different color to make notes or mark through old notes. With review comes clarity, and you may want to change your notes to reflect your learning. You will be able to keep up with how your thoughts and knowledge about the material have progressed.
Another way to reinforce the information in your brain is to make note cards with the information. Put a question or definition on one side of the card with the answer on the other. These are great for reviewing, either by yourself or with a study partner. Although it takes time to write up all the note cards for study, the act of writing down information you need to know will further imprint the knowledge onto your memory.
Step #3: Speak the material aloud
You've read and written the material. Now, speak the information aloud to further learn the material. I spoke my information aloud by quizzing myself with the note cards.The facts came out my mouth and into my ears--dual learning there. I would often read my study info out loud while pacing around the house. Does pacing help? I'm not sure, but it seemed to help me further "step" the data into my brain.
Also, on major tests such as my Master's exam or licensing exam, I spoke everything from my study materials into a recorder, which leads into the fourth step of listening.
Step #4: Listen to it!
So how do you listen to the material that you've now read, written, and voiced? I would listen to my recordings whenever I could--while I was cleaning house, driving, and even mowing. Often for home studying, I would read, write, and speak the material. On the road, I would listen. With all of these different learning methods inundating my mind with the study material, my brain had no choice but to learn the stuff, which was a great way to alleviate test anxiety. By the time I finally took the exam, I was confident--although nervous--that I would pass it. This feeling was a huge turn-around from the scattered thoughts and sickening nerves that had encompassed me in the beginning.
Try my four-step study method
Now you have the four-step method that I've learned over time. These techniques help not only in learning the material that must be studied, but they also help to lower the anxiety level. After studying in this manner, engaging all the senses, I have felt confident that I would do well on any test. After using the four-step method, you may feel, as I have, that you haven't crammed for a test but have actually learned the material. It's in your head and ready to come out on that exam.
Try this method. See if it works for you, too.