8 Exam Preparation Strategies for Students to Ace It

Students acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses through exams. This kind of assessment provides great ways to get confident about what the students know and find out what they still need to learn.

Here are the general strategies that students need to remember before and during an examination to help them ace it.

1. Identify the components of the exam

Find out as much as you can about the exam. These components include:

  • Identifying the topics that will be covered on the exam.  
  • Asking how much each item is worth and how would it affect the final grade or overall mark.
  • Identifying the exam type e.g. multiple choice, essay and problem type of exam and developing or adapting an approach on how to answer them.

Multiple Choice Type

  • Read and understand the question and choices
  • Eliminate possible distractors (incorrect answers)

Essay Type

  • Check for the criteria sheet used to grade the answers
  • Ensure that the written output has all the structure that the teacher required
  • Split the question into parts. For example, if the essay is about explaining the
    difference between goals and habits. You might divide it into:

(1) Explain – give reasons to clarify something

(2) The difference – characteristics that distinguish goals from habits and vice versa  


(3) Goals – give the definition

(4) Habits – give the definition

Problem Type

  • Think about the processes involved in the problem and what the approach
    will be if put in a real-life situation.

2. Avoid cramming

Gather all the notes and look for sample worksheets which are related to the exam topics. Reinforce understanding after learning the information and perfect it with enough preparation for the exam. Avoid studying only on the day before the exam because it increases the chance to re-learn the material. Lastly, preparation should start several weeks before the exam date.

3. Have a study buddy

In preparation for an exam, it is important that you spend adequate time both with friends and alone. Preparing for an exam with friends will allow you to articulate and justify answers to a group of like-minded people who are studying the same material. If you have misunderstood something, working through definitions with friends will likely help you to identify these areas and resolve them.

exam preparation strategies for students to ace it - have a study buddy - tutor2you

4. Practice using past exam papers

Answer old questions to familiarise with the structure and important content of the lesson. Set time limits when practising for the test, e.g. 5 minutes to solve maths problem or 1 minute per multiple choice item.

5. Scan the actual exam papers

exam preparation strategies for students to ace it - scan the actual exam papers - tutor2you

Upon receiving the exam paper, read all instructions before answering. Check for missing exam pages. And, spend more time answering items which have high marks.

6. Analyse the question

Break the questions down to make sure that you understand what you’re asked.  Look for the key points on each item on the exam. These will give you hints on how to answer it. Use techniques to remember what you have learned, such as mind mapping to help organise your thoughts in a logical way and mnemonic devices to improve your ability to remember important details.

7. Review your answers

If you finish the exam before the time is up it's a good idea to go back over everything, even answers you're confident you got right. Try to:

  • review as many answers as you can
  • decide if you will start with the questions you're least or most confident about
  • make sure you've answered every question
exam preparation strategies for students to ace it - review your answers - tutor2you

​8. Come up with your strategy

These tips are only the tings that you can do to ace the exam. There might be other things that work for you. You can also find out how your classmates and friends prepare for exams and what techniques they use. Ask for recommendations from the teachers too.

Beat the Clock

A fun game to avoid procrastination when reviewing for exams and doing homework. Sometimes children need a jump-start. If that’s true for yours, try Dolin’s “Five Minutes of Fury”: Set a timer for five minutes, shout “Go!” and have your child work as fast as she can until the timer goes off. At that point, they can take a short break or keep going — and many kids continue.

“Racing against a timer gives kids an external sense of urgency if they don’t have an internal one,” they note (besides, it’s fun!). But it’s not an excuse for sloppy work, so tell them to go over it before she puts it back in her folder.


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