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How To Create A Structured Plan For Every Test And Exam

Students, inevitably, have to confront an examination at some stage during their course of study. Therefore, an understating of examination demands, requirements and techniques, is crucial in order to achieve a top grade in the exam. Examination time, however, tends to be a very stressful time which is a resultant effect of lack of preparation. This often leads to desperate cramming before the exam which, in turn, produces disastrous results and unleashes huge guilt issues.

Many people experience health problems with increasing stress. Sleeping difficulties, lack of concentration, nausea, diarrhea etc. Thus we can all agree that thorough preparation will increase our confidence level and reduce stress to a constructive dose of adrenaline.

In my experience,

I, personally, had to go through many tough exams- most of them were oral exams and course material was in average 2000 pages. This requires memorizing pages and pages of data, names and absorbing specific terminology. I soon discovered that there are so many other important aspects of learning apart from just sitting down and studying.

The first thing is Organisation of course material. Make sure you have all the notes and relevant textbooks. Most importantly obtain all past exams papers and talk to students who have already passed this course. Try your best to identify lecturer’s favorite topics and questions that keep appearing in the past papers.

The second thing is Organization of your Time. For this, you need a precise date for the exams and then you will get the rough order of your preparation. The next step is to divide your studying time into days reserved for particular subjects. The timetable must be reasonably organized allowing more time for the difficult courses and you must be able to follow it.

Set performance target for every exam.

Have breaks between studying sessions and eat plenty of fruit and vegetable. Avoid large quantities of coffee and tea since this will disturb your sleeping pattern.

To get the complete feeling of confidence, however, we need to arm ourselves with various studying techniques. This article provides academic learners, at any level of study with cutting knowledge and techniques on how to boost one’s exam results, by implementing 15 specific strategies.


Outlining What Examiners Do Not Like

  • Failing to recognize what one of the key terms in the question means-
  • Not realizing which issues from the course are being raised. Every question is intended to direct you towards particular issues that have been discussed in the course. You have to spot which ones.
  • Failing to offer analysis an argument relating to the question- No examination question ever asks you merely to write all you know about something. The requirement for analysis is indicated by process words in the question such as address, comment, describe, highlight, outline, identify, draw on, recommend, consider, explain, discuss, suggest & show.
  • Failing to take an objective stance in relation to the question. The answers must be written in an objective manner and should not include your opinions or emotions dressed up in lots of committed rhetoric. Cool detachment is of the essence.


  • Failing to end the answer with any conclusions- You greatly increase the impression of purposefulness and relevance in your answer if you make a point of coming back quite specifically to the question at the end of your answer and briefly showing how what you have said helps to answer it.
  • Not answering in the appropriate format- Reports, essay
  • Failing to draw on material from the course- It is essential to treat each question as an opportunity to bring out relevant terms and ideas presented in the course. When you are arguing a point you must back up your case by citing evidence and examples from the course.
  • Stuffing your answers full of names and facts- If you cram your answers with full of facts, names and diagrams without selecting them for their relevance or explanatory power or without placing them in the context of an argument the marker will suspect that you do not understand the subject and are hoping that sheer memory of items of information will do as a substitute It won’t.
  • Using your time badly. Allocate time to questions based on the marks given to the question. Students who spend extra time on the first question score inadequately for the rest of the questions and hence may suffer on the overall score.


Poor Presentation

  • Unstructured- that is lacking a beginning, middle and an end or not in the format required by a particular question.
  • Lacking any division into paragraphs or sections
  • Written in note form rather than sentences where the question did not ask for notes and vice versa
  • In ineligible handwriting


Revising for Examinations

What is the point of revision?

The most important purpose of the revision is to pull together all the work you have done in studying the course. Revision is the process of tidying up the result and getting your ideas back into usable shape. Without this period of revision, the course would drift away from you.

This means that revision has to be made into an active managerial process- not just mechanical scanning pages hoping something will stick. It needs to be planned in a purposeful way and to be designed around activities that are meaningful, engaging and thought-provoking and not repetitive, tedious and boring


When should you start your revision for the examination?

The right time for you depends on

  • Your personal commitments in addition to studying and the time you can spare for the revision process
  • Your personal approach to studying whether you are more capable of short intense bursts of effort or longer sustained periods
  • What you are trying to get out of the course.
  • Ideally, you should have a revision plan and the process of revision should start a couple of months before the examination date

For example, let’s say that you have a big exam next week in your international marketing class. The test covers 7 chapters of your textbook and 3 class lectures that you have class notes for, as well as having the lectures on tape.

Schedule your time.

The schedule for the two weeks leading up to your test may look something like this:

  • 8 Days Before Exam: Read Chapters 1&2 of your textbook. Review Chapter 1 notes from class while following along with the teachers lecture on tape.
  • 7 Days Before Exam: Read Chapters 2&3 from your textbook. Take notes. No class notes or teacher lectures to review.
  • 6 Days Before Exam: Read Chapters 4&5 of your textbook. Review Chapter 4&5 notes from class while following along with the teachers lectures on tape.
  • 5 Days before the Exam: Read Chapters 6&7 from your textbook. Take notes. No class notes or teacher lectures to review.
  • 4 Days before Exam: Review all notes for all chapters.
  • 3 days before Exam: Take sample test at the end of each chapter.
  • 2 Days before the Exam: Review all questions on the sample tests, paying special attention to those I got wrong.
  • 1 day before the Exam: Final review of notes for Chapters 1-7.


Getting hold of old examination papers and reviewing their structure and important areas of emphasis

Should you restudy the whole course?

Prioritize- remember- must do, should do, could do and by implication do not do. This you may be able to obtain by a reviewing past examination papers and tips from your lecturer.

Drawing up a detailed timetable for your revision- This should take into consideration your other commitments, time for studying the last part of the course, practicing examination questions and tying up the loose ends together.

Sorting out your course material- Unless you have a superbly efficient filing system you will have accumulated bits of paper notes, written assignments, handouts, photocopies of articles, lecture notes, problems answered and so on.

Identify the central questions at the heart of each section of the course- this may be understood by identifying the central themes, and lesson objectives. Prepare master summaries or mind maps


Final Preparations

  • Changes to your mental strategy – You will probably be less good at deep thinking tasks such as sorting out the underlying meaning of a difficult chapter. But you will be better at working at routine things like checking over your notes, practicing answering questions or reminding yourself of your strategy for the exam. So it would be very unwise to leave basic revision to the last few days. Plan to switch your mode of work.
  • Examination stress- Use this tension productively. You are doing the examination because you have chosen to and because it is for your own good.
  • However, if the stress is unbearable it helps to keep talking to other students or to your lecturer. Talking to others will release tension and will help you to keep things in a realistic perspective
  • Some people find breathing exercises helpful, meditation and exercise such as swimming, cycling and walking.
  • Checking the arrangements so that you do not arrive on a wrong day at the wrong place or the wrong time.


Working Out Your Tactical Plan for the Examination

  • Scan through the paper finding the questions you are well prepared for
  • Start writing soon if it helps to unfreeze you-you may jot down certain ideas and concepts that you may later use in the answers
  • Take your best question first or second
  • Compulsory questions that carry very high marks should be tackled first or second
  • As you tackle the question
  • Examine the wording carefully- use a highlighting pen for keywords
  • Very quickly list some relevant points from the course
  • Move back and forth between the question and your list as you sketch out an outline plan for your answer
  • Take the time to plan your answer before you start writing
  • Make sure your answer is relevant to the question
  • Ensure your answers are in the required format


  • Consider planning latter questions in advance
  • Draw up a time plan for the whole examination
  • Do not run wildly over your deadlines
  • Do your best to write legibly but don’t overdo it
  • If you do run out of time notes are better than a few paragraphs which are not well developed
  • For numerical questions check for basic errors and ask yourself if the answers look reasonable
  • Scan through and answer all the easy questions- beware easy ones are tricky so read each word very carefully
  • Having answered the easy ones quickly gives more time for the harder ones.
  • Choose direct answers or methods of elimination
  • Rough working should be quick and understandable by you
  • Timing is of an essence


If you follow this combination of these study structures, you should be well on your way to successful study habits suitable for every examination or class test. As you are ironing out your study habit kinks, you may need to make some adjustments along the way. But with a study structure in place, you can’t possibly go wrong.

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