How to Prepare for an Exam

An exam is the acid test in which you have to show that you have mastered a subject. Anticipation and preparation are the keys to obtaining a good result. Do you have a study habit? Do you know how to prepare an exam according to the type of test: multiple choice, oral, question and development? Follow our techniques and tips and you will be able to successfully pass your exams.

Preparation for Exams

Prepare for an Exam

1. Start Early

The first thing to keep in mind when preparing for an exam is that you must start early. Go to classes, get the books and the additional recommended material from the first moment, take notes and review them when you get home, do the work that the teacher orders. All this will help you to bring the subject up to date and that when the date of the exam do not have to binge on study in the previous days.

2. A place to Study

To facilitate the study, it is convenient that you have adequate space. You need to have a fixed place to study – it can be your room or another room in your house, or the library, but it should always be the same place – where you have all the necessary material at hand (books, notes, notebooks, markers …), that it is well lit and that it is comfortable and quiet, without noise or other distractions such as television, computer or mobile. If you have some of these devices in your study room, keep them turned off while you study; Also your mobile phone: taking a look at social networks or listening to a WhatsApp message and chatting with a friend can rob you of a lot of study time.

3. A Routine to Study

It is convenient that you set a time to study (every day at the same time, x hours a day, x days a week) as it will help you focus and create a study habit. The schedule must be realistic, in order to comply with it: it is not the same if you have to prepare a subject as if you have to study seven or eight at the same time; Nor if you are preparing a MIR-type exam or an opposition, or if you have to combine your studies with a job.

To choose your study schedule, take into account your biorhythms. If you are one of those who perform better in the morning, get up early and take advantage of the first hours of the day to study; If your thing is not to get up early and you are more active late in the day you can study until later at night. In any case, respect a minimum of eight hours of sleep a day.

In addition to the time dedicated to studying, you have to plan a few short breaks from time to time to rest. It is time for you to stretch your legs, go find yourself a coffee or, now, take your mobile and answer the pending WhatsApps. Of course, in the same way that you set a time for study, you must also set a time for breaks; between 5 and 10 minutes will be enough.

If, due to the difficulty of the exam you are preparing, you spend many hours every day kneeling your elbows, set aside at least one day a week to rest completely, and incorporate some leisure or sport activity into your routine a couple of times per week to “clear up.”

There may be times when you realize that the study is no longer working: if after several hours between books you see that you are reviewing a topic, but you cannot find out what you are studying no matter how much you reread it over and over again, it is time to take a break.

Techniques for Preparing an Exam

To be able to pass an exam, you have to be willing – nobody said that studying was easy -, you have to be motivated – what is your goal: pass the degree, get a place in an opposition … – and you have to have a method. There are different techniques to study; Today we present one to you: the PLaSMaRA method (Pre-readingReadingSynthesizingMemorizationReviewSelf-evaluation ). These are its phases:


Explore the topic before studying it. Read quickly without stopping or reversing. The objective is to become familiar with the subject you are going to study, and to try to discover the structure of the subject and identify the main ideas.


This reading must be slow, thoughtful, paragraph by paragraph. It is about understanding what is written to select the fundamental (those most important ideas in the text and their logical chain), and prioritize the information since not all ideas are equally important. To do this you must underline, marking the keywords, adding notes to the margin, highlighting the ideas with different colors and symbols.


Starting from the previous underline, it is time to elaborate a synthesis of the topic, turning what you have read into assimilated knowledge and briefly expressed in your own words. You can make diagrams, diagrams, concept maps, timelines, summaries. But in any case they must respond to these characteristics: be brief, be visual, be precise and be complete.


This is the stage in which you seek to fix the content in your head to favor its retention. You have to make sense of what you are studying (come to understand it) to favor the memory. How? Draw your notes to highlight the information, connect concepts and repeat and review until you can explain the topic in your own words.


The reviews serve to fix in memory everything learned. To do this, you must recite the topic studied in your own words (to show that you have understood it), using the syntheses that you have prepared and checking that you do not forget anything important. You must plan several reviews: a first, 24 hours after seeing the topic; an intermediate review three days after the initial review; weekly, until you learn the subject; and monthly when you have already learned it well. Add a final review to the entire subject before the test date.

Self Appraisal

This step will allow you to objectively check the level of knowledge achieved. How? Taking tests and essay exams. This way you can check if you have any gaps, where you have failed and what you need to review, etc. It is a way of going back to what has been studied and consolidating knowledge.

Study for certain Types of Exams

If you know in advance what type of exam you are going to have (test or development type) you can adapt your way of studying to it.

For example, if you are going to be examined with a multiple-choice test, you should study the syllabus, but also train yourself by taking questionnaires and then reviewing where your failures are. When you have to face the exam, as you will have a limited time to do it, read the sentences carefully and answer first the easy questions and those related to the part of the subject that you master best. Take into account the exam correction system: normally the wrong answers are discounted, but leaving them blank does not, so if you are not very sure of your answer, you should leave it unanswered.

If, on the other hand, your exam is a development exam, add essay tests to your study time planning as it will help you gain confidence with the format and agility when writing. When it’s time for the exam, keep the following tips in mind: write neatly, concisely and coherently, without rambling (it can help you to make an outline before you start writing), without spelling mistakes and with a good presentation (leave margins, that your handwriting is legible and avoids scratches), and review the exam before handing it in to check that you have put all the essentials and that there are no mistakes.

The Day Before the Exam

Even if you have followed these recommendations, it is possible that the day before the exam your nerves and anxiety attack you. It is something normal, but to try to minimize its negative effects, try doing some moderate social or sports activity, which helps you disconnect and relax, forget about hitting a study marathon on the last day, and try to sleep well to be rested to the exam.

Now it is your turn to put these tips and techniques to study into practice. Good luck in your next exams!