Best tips to study effectively before exams

For those of you who neglect your textbooks all through the year, exams turn into a nightmare. It becomes a race to see how fast you can cram a year’s worth of syllabus. With the Board exams around the corner, there are many of you probably doing the same.

During a time of such intense exam pressure, you first need to realise that studying for 12 hours a day is not something very healthy and you can rarely, if ever, adapt yourself to doing something like that. What is most effective is studying with full concentration in small pockets and taking short breaks in between. Your focus shouldn’t be on HOW LONG you studied but on HOW MUCH you studied.


Before the exam starts, and during the exam, make sure you read the instructions and questions carefully, and re-read them so that you are clear on what you need to do and what you are being asked.

All students are given 10 minutes reading time before the exam starts. You can’t write anything during this time, but you can use this to read through the whole paper slowly and carefully. Use this time to check how many questions you have to answer, and if there are any questions where you have to decide which ones to answer.

Make a plan

When the exam starts the first thing to do is plan how you will approach it. This means deciding:

  • What questions you are going to answer (if there are options). Choose topics that you know best even if the questions seem hard. Remember to make sure that you complete the compulsory questions.
  • How long you will spend on each question. See Planning your time for an exam
  • What order you will answer the questions in. Start with questions that you feel the most confident about, as you may be able to answer them faster than you plan for. This will give you extra time for other questions or to revise your answers.

Write down your order and how long you will spend on each question so that you have a plan to follow. As you go through the exam check to make sure you have answered all the questions, and that you are sticking to your time plan.

Brainstorm your answers

For each question you need to answer write down all the information you can remember about that topic to use as a reference. You could try using mind maps to help you get the information down

(Note: this technique doesn’t work well with multi-choice questions).

You can use an exam book for this, but remember to cross our your rough notes when you have finished answering the question so the marker knows they are not part of your answers.

When you get stuck

If you get stuck on a question move on before you get stressed. Note down how much time you have spent on the question, leave a gap in your answer book and return to it later. This will help ease your stress about the question and ensure you don’t use up valuable time.

If you really don’t know how to answer a question or what to say, you can try to do a brainstorm or mind map. You will soon start remember more details. You could also:

  • Write down what you are writing about (your topic) using your own words.
  • Explain what you mean.
  • Give an example (or more than one).
  • Discuss the implications.
  • Summarise what you have written and say what you think about it.

You may be surprised to discover just how much you do know about the topic once you get started.

Check your answers

If you have time left at the end of the exam use the time to check your work. Check that you have:

  • Written the number of the questions you answered on the front cover of your exam book in the table in the bottom right-hand corner in in the ‘candidate question’ column. Leave the other columns blank.
  • Filled the information on the front cover correctly.
  • Written your name and student number on any extra paper you used.
  • Answered all of the questions. Try not to leave an answer blank. If you have time write something even if it is a guess. (Unless marks will be deducted for incorrect answers – check the instructions.)
  • Drawn a line through everything you don’t want the examiner to mark, i.e. your rough work.

You also need to check your answers. Start with those that will give you the highest marks to see if you can improve on them. Then if you still have time, check the rest of the questions.

Checking an essay answer

For essay-type answers, re-read them to make sure they make sense. Listen to yourself as you read and ask yourself:

  • Have I answered the question?
  • Have I answered all the parts of the question(s)?
  • Have I covered all the main points?
  • Have I supported my claims with examples, reasons and results?

If you have time left check your spelling, grammar, etc. And if you still have time, go back and check your work again. Start at the end and work through to the beginning this time – you may just notice something that needs changed.

Out of time

If you realise you are going to run out of time and have not answered all of the questions, jot down your main ideas and key words so that the examiner knows where you were going with the essay – you may get a few additional marks in this way.

Exams are inevitable for students, but they don’t have to be painful. These tips can help you get ready for and get through your exams. They can also help you prepare for tests and class presentations, and tackle in-class assignments.

1. Find out about the exam

Know your enemy – find out as much as you can about the exam. Questions to ask include:

  • How much is the exam worth to your overall mark in the subject?
  • What type of exam is it (for example, multiple choice, essay, open book, take-home)?
  • Will there be a choice of questions or tasks?
  • How much will each question or task be worth?

2. Ask for help

Don’t feel bad if you need to ask for help. People you can talk to about exams include:

  • teachers
  • lecturers
  • family members
  • friends and fellow students.

If you’re feeling really stressed you might also find it helpful to speak to a counsellor. Our Student counselling page has tips for finding a counsellor.

3. Sort out your subject material

Before starting to review a subject it helps to:

  • check you have all of the handouts
  • put your notes in order
  • read over any course outline or subject guide
  • write your own summaries of each textbook chapter or section of the subject guide.

Getting all your gear together makes it easier to find what you need while you’re studying.

4. Review past exam papers

Get your hands on any old exam papers from the subject and familiarise yourself with the structure and format. Places you can get past exam papers from include:

  • your teacher or lecturer
  • your school or university library
  • the Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority.

When reviewing, practise answering the questions within the specified time limits.

5. Know where to go

Make sure you know where and when the exam is happening. You don’t want to miss your exam! Here’s how to make sure that doesn’t happen to you.

  • Check your exam timetable for time and place details.
  • Do a practise run to find out how long it takes to get there.
  • Make a list of everything you need to take with you (for example, calculator, pencil, ruler).
  • Do some study at the same time as your exams (for example, if you have an early morning exam, practise getting up and studying earlier in the day).

6. Don’t cram

Staying up all night to cram will only stress you out. It’s better to just review what you’ve already studied and get an early night. That way you’ll be as refreshed as you can be on the day of your exam.

If you want to do some preparation the night before, keep it simple:

  • Get all your materials together.
  • Read over your notes.
  • Test yourself on key concepts.
  • Set your alarm.

7. Keep your cool

Fronting up to an exam can be nerve-wracking, but here are some tips for staying calm:

  • Don’t talk too much to other students before the exam.
  • Try to get there with time to spare so you don’t arrive all rushed.
  • Make sure you have a decent breakfast.
  • Listen to some inspiring music on the way to the exam.
  • Wear your lucky shirt or bring a lucky charm (if you have one).

8. Use your reading time

The way you use your reading time can really help you make the most of your exam time. Here are some ways to use your reading time well:

  • Read all of the instructions very carefully.
  • Scan the whole exam paper.
  • Check how many pages there are.
  • Check how much each question is worth (it helps to spend more time on heavier weighted questions).
  • Plan which questions to answer first (consider starting with questions you’re confident about).
  • Plan how much time you’ll spend on each answer or section.
  • Start thinking about your answers.

9. Break the questions down

A great tip for any exam is to break the questions down to make sure you really understand what you’re being asked.

Look for the key parts of the question. These can give you clues on how to answer it.

For example, for the question, “Explain the difference between study and revision”, you could split this question into four parts:

  1. Explain – Give reasons to show how or why something is the way it is.
  2. The difference – What are the distinguishing factors between study and revision?
  3. Study – What is study?
  4. Revision – What is revision?

10. Review your answers (if you can)

If you finish the exam before the time is up it’s a good idea to go back over everything, even answers you’re confident you got right. Try to:

  • review as many answers as you can
  • start with the questions you’re least confident about
  • make sure you’ve answered every question
  • make sure you’ve answered every part of every question (some questions might have multiple parts).

Come up with your own strategies

Remember – these tips are only some of the things that you can do to get the most out of your exams. There might be other things that work even better for you.

Ask around – find out what your friends do for their exams – maybe some of their tricks will work for you as well! Maybe your teachers have some good recommendations too.

So, Children your exams are fast approaching & you are facing the jitters? correct? But there is nothing to worry. If you plan your studies well, you can definitely pass your examinations with flying colours.

Here are a few simple tips that you can follow:

1. Your school has issued a time table for
the exams. Go through the time table carefully.

2. Find out which are the subjects whose
examination dates fall after a Sunday/public holiday.

3. Ensure that you know the portions for
the exams. If in doubt, ask your teacher.

4. Prepare a study time table of your own
every day.

5. If you are weak in a particular subject,
do not postpone studying for this subject at all.

6. Every night before going to sleep, look
at the plan that you made in the morning and review what you have done. This
will help you understand if you are lagging behind the plan.

7. Your plan has to be realistic. Do not
stuff too many things in a day. Set aside some time in the day for relaxation
like playing/ television/ music.

Early to Rise & early to Bed

Our ancestors have reiterated time and again that when you get up and study early in the morning, you will understand the lessons better and what you study will be imprinted in your mind.

It is generally not advisable to study too late into the night.

During the early morning hours, the weather is pleasant, there is complete silence, you can hear the birds chirping and you can concentrate more.
Avoid watching too much of television during exams

Television is called the idiot box. During exams, television can distract you and can make you addictive. If you must watch, watch only for a short time.

Practice by Writing

Ms.Vijayalakshmi, my chemistry teacher in class VIII had advised us to practice answers by writing them point-wise. I followed the advice and it helped me immensely. If you study in this fashion, you will benefit a lot while writing your answer paper.

Timing of Studying

Afternoons can be the time when you will find it difficult to resist sleeping. Sleeping for a short while is ok. But make it a point to study the lively subjects like maths and science in the afternoons.

Love the Language

If you are going to hate a subject, it is also going to hate you. So, do not hate any subject. While studying for subjects like history & geography, read the textbooks thoroughly several times. Use a pencil to jot down important points and underline those.

Drawing & Science

As you move to the higher classes, you have to study subjects like physics, chemistry & biology. So, you have to brush up your drawing as good drawings fetch you good marks. Subjects like biology will fetch good marks when you draw even when the question is silent about it.

Health is Wealth

Take care of your health during your exams. If you fall sick. Your parents will be anxious and you will also find it hard to study. so, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables during your exams and drink plenty of water too.

Revision – a Must

Revise your lessons without fail. Clarify your doubts. If you have made a mistake while practicing the answers, do not worry. Learn from those mistakes.

The Intruders

Some of your classmates may call you at home to ask for doubts. While there is no harm in helping them, be polite to them and if they are having too many doubts, ask them to come to your house and clarify things once for all.your time is precious, isn’t it ? also avoid lending notebooks to your friends during examinations. You can however allow them to take a Xerox of the notes & return the books back to you immediately.


Do devote at least 10 minutes for prayer. Prayer, it is said, can move mountains. So, pray for success in your exams and seek the blessings of your parents and elders in the family.

Go for short Walks with your Mom/Dad

After you are at home studying for the exams for the whole day, you can take a short walk in the evenings/ night along with your mom/dad to rejuvenate yourself.
On the Exam Day

* Do not cram till the last minute.

* Be ready to go to school well in advance.

* Check your compass box, pens, pencils, sharpeners, erasers, scales etc.

* 15 minutes prior to the commencement of the exam, close all your books and relax.

* While answering the questions, read the questions carefully and attempt the questions that you know first.
Singh is King, Ghajini, Welcome…..

The television channels will be airing these movies repeatedly. You can watch these movies any time. But what about your class exams? after the exams, when the results are declared, you will be promoted to the next class. So, don’t you think you should give this your best shot!
All the best!