Examinations are an unavoidable part of the world of education, which means that if you are ambitious and want a successful future, you're going to be taking plenty of exams! While some students cause themselves an undue amount of stress over their exams, there are in fact several behaviors which you can practice to make test-taking easy, stress-free, and successful for you. If you have never developed these strong study habits, now is the time!
1. Be prepared. Preparation is critical to your success. If you don't have the material you need for the exam then you are at a significant disadvantage. Additionally, class attendance is critical, as class discussions serve to clarify the material and provide you with an opportunity to query your instructors regarding topics you require further explanation on. In addition, use any notes, assignments, study guides, and online study tools available to guide and focus your attention. If it has been covered or tested before, chances are it is essential information. By narrowing down the scope of your studying, you will be able to use your time more efficiently.
2. Minimize your distractions. Ours is a world filled with distractions such as noise, television, and music, but when it comes to studying these are exactly that... distractions. You cannot truly focus and retain information if you are trying to do two or more things at the same time, or if you are surrounding yourself with distractions. Find a quiet environment that is free of distraction and set a specified amount of time for your study session. To facilitate this practice, it is helpful to come up with a regular study schedule, but at times life gets in the way. Keeping the information and study tools at hand will allow you to use your time wisely as it becomes available.
3. Know your learning style. Everyone learns differently. What is helpful for most is to use games such as mnemonics in order to help you remember the information. Making it fun and making it memorable makes studying less of a chore and more of a game. Come up with a catchy phrase that contains the list or information you need and repeat it to yourself, out loud, or with study partners. If this method does not work for you, consider when you have had academic success in the past; how did you study for that success? For many students a combination of seeing the information and reciting it works very well, while others learn best when using the information within the context of a paper or a discussion. Finding what works best for you is the key.
4. Know the outcome expectations. The more you know about the exam, the more successful you will be. Know what areas to study, how it will be scored, and what you need to pass. This helps to ease some of the stress and pressure of the unknown and leaves you feeling more in control. It is easy to become frustrated during the exam, but frustration can result in a decreased confidence in your own abilities and a lower exam score. Concomitantly, increased confidence inevitably leads to increased exam scores.
With the right amount of preparation and attitude you are sure to succeed! Ask plenty of questions, use your available resources, and maintain your commitment to the process. You will perform better every time.
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Find a sample HESI practice test here.
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