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How to prepare and ace exam like Asians do?

Updated on May 3, 2011

Why you should read this lens

It's a myth that Asians always have better performance in their examinations at school. I often hear comments like: "Chinese guys are very smart!." "Asians are good at math." "People form Asia are very good at math." It's a myth that Asian people on average do better in school than people from other region. I can assure you that, it is not because Asians have higher IQ or their brains are bigger and smatter than yours. I will lead to you discover the reason Asians have better skills towards preparing examination and hopefully you can learn from their experience and ace your test as well.

As a Chinese myself, I have been educated in Chinese public school system till Grade 12 which is last year of Chinese high school. Then I went to study at University in Western system. Personally I find very rewarding to study in an American University. I can get exposure from many other subjects I did not have access to before. My personal experience tells me that many of my classmates are not dumb at all, but they do not have the right attitude and right study skill to pass tests they need to and waste a lot of effort and money to retake the courses they should not repeat.

I hope it worth to read my book and you have have insights of how Asians study towards test.


Fisher Yu

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The right attitude towards exam

How you can ace exam like Asians do

Many people feel panic and nervous before the exam. Too much anxiety should be negative force when you are about to prepare for exams. Right amount stress can help you to boost your brain and it’s often more efficient to study the material. But how to manage the level of stress?

My experience tells me that if you treat the test as a daily routine, you are more likely to have a right attitude towards test and more likely to better manage your stress level.

In China, exams are very common in your everyday study. Take an example of how school design the homework. We often have to do a lot of homework everyday. All the questions are likely to show up in exam, not the completely the same but similar, sometimes even harder. Chinese students may have exams in different subjects every month. What I am saying is that, Chinese students are studying for exam everyday and practice exam questions everyday. That’s why they are likely to success in exam. It could be a problem for creativity, because you might do the similar questions again and again, but it is a good way for you to prepare for exam.

What can you do to achieve the same result?

Think exam as a practice first, it is getting easier if you used to how you are test by figuring out what kind of question you might see in your test. And practice as much as you could, therefore you can finish your exam quickly enough to have extra time to review and tackle difficult questions. Familiarize yourself with how exams questions are lay out by thinking or simulate virtually in your brain helps you to better performance with the test.


Why Asian are good at math

One of the most questions I have been ask is "Why you are so smart?" I often do not respond to this kind of question but smile back to people who ask the question. To them, it might be a secret, but often I am shocked that how could they not know that formula, or how could they miss those easy questions!?

I can tell you that I am not at good at math at all in my high school teachers' standard. I am not smart compare to many people I think are truly smart. I can say that to do well in high school level or even college level math is not hard compare how students are competing each other in Chinese education system. Scores are measure in how high you can achieve rather than wether you can or can not pass the exam. Large amount of Chinese student can not get into college because they do not do well in College Entrance Exam even if they have pass all subjects. And often they only have one chance to do it. Thus, one test can determine their future. You can see how tough it can get for Chinese student if they not concentrate on perfecting their test skills. Many Asian education system follow the same, and it is much tougher than their American counterparts.

Back to the topic of math, average Asian student do better in math because they have to memorize a lot of math formula and have to do a lot practice questions, this process give them an advantage in a long run, that their logical thinking skills are in better shape than most of people who do not need to be educate in this way or have option to not to do many practices because they think it is not necessary. Another reason is that often in exam, we are not allowed to use calculators, we need to calculate numbers and perform this calculation in minds or writing in the paper. This process and practice makes Asian students seems like doing better in math compare to other students, but really different is Asian students get a lot of practices and other do not!

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The memorizing skills

Memorizing is very difficult in study, a lot of concept can be hard to understand and much harder to recall when you are in a test.

Asian students have to memorize a lot, sometime have to the exact the same answer to get full marks. Many conceptual questions and answers are provided to students prior to the exam, and students are required to remember every one of those questions and answers to have better chance to get high marks in the exam.

You see how it works now. By memorizing as much as you can, you build a test bank in your brain, and in real examination, you can quickly respond to those question because you you have seem them before and you know how to answer them is the right approach.

Testing skills

If a group of people doing tests every day and others every three months, can you tell me which group will have higher average score? The answer is obvious!!!

Testing skill is not that you can developed from thinking and reading articles. You can not learn testing skills by remember dot points or concept, you can not master the test skill by reading others tips or experience. You might laugh about it when you think, then Why should I tell how to how to improve your testing skills. My answer is that I want to you to understand that you can only mastering testing skills by having sitting exams by yourself as much as possible, by doing so, you can learn that what makes you perform better in exam and how to avoid mistakes you often make in exams. Since school does not give you chances to having test regularly, you can conduct testing preparation yourself. Having as much as mock exams as you can benefits you to in terms having the real exams!

Please leave your comments here!

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I think this article has hit the spot. Practice makes perfect. What I suggest on top of this is to have supportive friends and parents, and constant revision during school year. I am an asian myself and I feel that with all these tips, + a good attitude, you will do well.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      i used to be one of the top rankers in my class until 10th.But now, i am failing in 2 of the subjects that i got A* for without studying. Well I used to be doing the IGCSE board then.But now i changed to CBSE and have also joined the school 2 months late. i am also taking classes for competitive level examinations so i have only 2 hours for self study. Is there anyway that i can improve my grades?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hardwork overtime to acomplish skills.

    • vauldine profile image


      8 years ago

      Very good lens!

    • vauldine profile image


      8 years ago

      This was a very educational lens!

    • Mrmakingusmile LM profile image

      Mrmakingusmile LM 

      8 years ago

      Good lens. Study every day to retain material.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Practice makes perfect they say:) Good advice here!


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