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  How to Prepare for an Exam

How to Prepare for an Exam

As there are many ways to test people on knowledge, there are equally as many ways to prepare for an exam. People are different and thrive in different preparatory methods. We've designed several different ways for you to ace your exams.

  1. Essay Exams
  2. Essays can be some people's favorite or least favorite type of exam. The good part of the essay exam is that you can truly explain your knowledge of the subject matter in many ways. If you forgot a single word, then it will not cause you severe loss of points (as it would in a multiple choice test). Usually, essay exams are difficult to grade because they can be subjective. Therefore, people with better writing skills tend to favor these types of exams, as they know how to structure an essay. If you need help on writing essays, please read our section on How to Write an Essay. The tips below will help you prepare for an essay exam.

  3. Multiple Choice
  4. Multiple-choice exams are easy for some and death for others. Some people can sail through on them without studying at all. Others think too hard on each question and miss the obvious answer sitting before them. The beauty of a multiple-choice test is that all the information you will need is given to you. The drawback of a multiple-choice test is that the additional information given to you is designed to confuse you. It takes a specific mindset to excel in this type of testing. See below for tips on how to prepare for a multiple-choice exam. These exams are like sports; they take a lot of practice, but you can master them. True or False questions may also fall into this category, where you will be given a fact and have to choose one or the other.

  5. Matching
  6. Matching exams are rather student friendly exams. They are generally given in high school, infrequently in college, and almost never afterwards. They come in two formats: equal questions and answers, and trick question and answers. When there are equal sets of facts to match up, then you will more than likely excel. However, many tests are designed to truly test your knowledge and will place a few extra categories on one side of the matching plane. When this occurs, you must rely on your factual knowledge and not simply your ability to filter out bad answers.

  7. Fill in the Blanks
  8. Fill in the Blank exams are also more prevalent in high school and earlier. Occasionally you will find this type of exam in college and beyond. If so, you are lucky, for you will increasingly wish you may have this type of exam. In this case, you must know the factual information in order to fit it into the sentence. However, in these tests, you can rely on your context clues of the sentence to see what works. If you have a general enough basis of knowledge on a subject matter, you will more than likely fill in the correct blank. True or False questions may also fall into this category, where you will be given a fact and have to choose one or the other.

  9. Oral Exams
  10. Oral Exams are generally held for graduate school. In law school, students are questioned aloud in class often, and in order to complete a PhD, doctoral students must pass their "Orals." These oral exams, also given in college and high school, are stressful examinations. You are sitting in front of professors who will ask you questions on the spot. You cannot formulate ideas in your head, test them out on paper, and erase. You must come up with ideas and speak fluidly and succinctly. You will have little ways out of answering questions you don't know, aside from honesty.

Of these six basic testing procedures, we will outline different ways to prepare, depending on your time schedule, your patience, and of course your type.

  1. Essay Exams
    • Ask your teacher/professor for a few practice questions
    • Time yourself and write a sample essay or two a couple days ahead of time
    • Look over old essay questions (if available)
  2. Multiple Choice
    • Practice practice practice
    • Go over several old exams to get used to the format
    • Memorize facts using flashcards or group questionnaires
    • Do not cram (for you will inevitably forget information)
  3. Matching
    • Memorize facts using flashcards
    • Group question-answer studying
    • Try your own matching tests, test yourself
  4. Fill in the Blanks
    • Test yourself with self-made tests
    • Ask your teacher for old tests and practice on those
    • Study with flashcards of facts
    • Test friends in a study group
  5. Oral Exams
    • First outline all you plan to say on paper
    • Practice it aloud to yourself
    • Practice in front of a mirror (to see body language, hand gestures)
    • Practice aloud to an audience (of family or friends)

It is important to remember that not all people test alike. You may prefer one type of test to another solely based on your ability to study for it. Regardless of your favorite preparatory habits, you will inevitably be tested in all five of these formats at some point in your life. It is highly advisable to learn how to prepare for them all.