Art of Studying & Preparing for Exams

Preparing for an exam can be daunting. The Study Guide makes that process simpler and it’s the best way to prepare for a certification exam. Given below are some methods which you can follow to prepare for exams.


The purpose of a study guide is to help you synthesize and summarize the information. You might think of your study guide as a mini outline. It is especially useful for difficult or complex concepts or subject areas. The primary advantage of a study guide is that it reduces the amount of information to be learned. Also, memory is improved by putting the information in your own words and organizing it in ways that are meaningful to you.


This is the most common method of organizing information. You simply summarize the underlining and marking both in your text and in your lecture notes. It is important to use titles that will organize the material in ways meaningful to you. Then in your own words list the most important facts under each title. At this point in your study process, you should be able to use key words--either in the text or the margin--that will trigger recall without needing a full written explanation.


If you learn best from visual representations, this may be the best method for you. Arrange a chapter's titles and subtitles using geometric shapes such as circles, squares, triangles, radiating lines and arrows to place information in a meaningful pattern. Graphic overviews can also be prepared for sections within a chapter.


Index cards are an efficient means of organizing information that can be written in a straightforward manner. Examples include definitions of terms, brief facts or charts, mathematical formulas, and foreign language vocabulary. Index cards are very easy to make and a few could even be made after reading a chapter. First, write the title or topic on the blank side. Then write the information to be learned on the back or lined side of the card, preferably upside-down so it is easy to read when the card is turned. You may even include a brief example on the back of the card. If you number the cards, be sure that you mix them up during your final review session(s) to test recall and understanding.


One advantage of essay exams is that you will be tested on the major concepts. Thus it is relatively easy to predict the types of questions you will be asked. Using common essay question words such as define, contrast, and prove, you can link the subheadings together and accurately predict exam questions.


Old exams are one of the best ways to test your grasp of the information. They are usually written at a deeper level of difficulty than study guides that you create. Also they give you experience in taking a test using "real" examples. This process often exposes concepts that are still unclear or fuzzy. You must be cautious in using old exams to the exclusion of other study aids. The range of examples is limited so that studying and knowing the examples on one test does not insure that you will do well on a test that focuses on alternate concepts. Taking old tests can also be a time consuming process. However the combination of studying all the target material and then taking an old exam can be a very effective.


Many publishers also print study guides to accompany the textbook. They can shortcut your task of summarizing the information after studying the text. Please click here to access commercial study guides.