1. Outline your study plan.
Highlight the material your teacher has deemed most important — for example, if the test is focusing on the characters in Tuck Everlasting, you should spend more time studying that area rather than, say, the setting of the story.
Helpful Hint: Divide information into digestible chunks, such as chapters for social studies, groups of 10 word problems at a time for math, 5 vocabulary words for language arts, etc.
2. Refresh your memory.
Review the material you learned first. Go all the way back to the beginning of your notes or textbook, and review carefully. When you study the next night, review the material from the night before, then move on to the next chapter, set of problems, or group of vocabulary words. That way, you're slowly building upon the foundation of information, making it easier for your brain to process facts, formulas, and features that will appear on test day.
3. Make flash cards.
Not only do flash cards make quizzing yourself easy, but the process of making the flash cards is also a valuable study session. It ensures that you look at all of the test information at least one time. Plus, writing it down helps you visualize the material come test day. Make flash cards or use a pack of 3x5 index cards and decide how you want to test your knowledge. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Vocabulary word on the front side; definition on the back
- Name of math formula on the front; example of how to use the formula on the back
- Major historical event on the front; date it occurred on the back
- Name of character from book on the front; significance of character to the story on the back
Carry your stack of flash cards with you until test day, quizzing yourself whenever you have free time.
4. Rewrite notes on the most important topics.
Add details from your textbook — this guarantees that you'll be reading the text as you write down information in your notes. Continue this method up until the final few days before the test. It will definitely help the material stick in your brain!
Helpful Hint: When you write notes on a specific topic or chapter in your textbook, leave a little room at the bottom of the page so you can add more later on if you have questions or forget something.
5. Go over detailed material with a classmate.
Even if you swear that you work better alone, try to study with a classmate for at least one session. Whether it's a good friend or someone you know casually, your peers can offer different perspectives or interpretations of your teacher's lesson and have different notes than you. They may also study differently and can give tips on what works and what doesn't. By reviewing with a classmate, you're gathering even more information, which increases your chances of doing better on the test.
Helpful Hint: Trade notebooks with a classmate and jot down anything you may have missed during a lesson.
6. Reread all your information.
Now it's getting to be crunch time, but don't rush through your review. Tackle it in stages by working on small sections during mini study sessions. Divide the test material into three categories: stuff you're confident with, stuff you think you could use some work on, and stuff that you're not comfortable with going into the test. Work on the "not comfortable" stuff first, until you have a better grasp on the material. Move onto stuff you know but think you should know better, until it's in the "confident" category. Finally, review the stuff you're sure you know, to confirm that you have the material straight in your head.
7. Hold a rapid-fire study session with a friend.
Bounce questions around for each other to answer. Remember, family members are friends, too: ask your big sister or a parent to quiz you. Focus on the areas that are giving you the most trouble, but don't skip the material you know well.
Helpful Hint: Saying answers aloud while studying helps, because you're using another sense — hearing — to build a concrete memory of the answer.
8. Glance over notes one final time.Quiz yourself by looking through your notes or doing a round of flash cards one last time. Check any topics you may not be 100% sure of and do a refresh of the main points concerning those topics. Now get your pencil out — you're ready to ace that test!