Student tips for optimal exam preparation

When students think about an exam or exam preparation, most of them get scared – and not just at the bachelor thesis or master thesis, but also earlier. This is also completely understandable, because even if you prepare properly, you are excited. Basically nobody likes exams. This not only applies to the academic field, but covers many different areas of life.

The examinations at the university are basically not that easy, because there are mostly complex contexts, etc., which have to be audited. The preparation effort for an exam or examination is therefore enormous. No wonder that many nervously enter an exam. Many students who can not handle stress or nervousness properly, even suffer a “blackout” and forget about nothing more from nervousness. But that does not have to happen to you. There are different methods and ways of optimal exam preparation. In this article, we would like to give you practical tips to help you successfully complete an exam.

Start learning early

It’s the biggest mistake you can make, starting too late with the exam preparation. It gets even more problematic if you have to take several exams in a short period of time. So it is often the infamous exam weeks that make our lives hell. Of course, those who have started learning early will have no trouble. But if you have started learning too late, you will be very stressed during the exam weeks. So create the necessary conditions and start learning early. In this way, you will be strengthened and confident in an exam. At the same time you can be sure that the stress level is reduced. Thus, you have a clear mind and can retrieve your knowledge pinpoint.

Another positive aspect is that you only have enough time for unforeseen things, for example, illness or private occurrences, when you are early. In addition, if you find that you do not understand the subject matter, you can use statistics tutoring or mathematics tutoring in difficult subjects and still learn the material in good time.

That also means accepting help. So if you have difficulty writing, even advanced PhD students will be able to proofread your dissertation, as well as Master’s students for the Master’s thesis. Do not be shy!

To motivate oneself correctly

You need to be motivated to get the most out of an exam. You should always ask yourself why you are studying and what your overall goal is. Do you want to stay at the university until the dissertation? Do you want to earn a lot of money? Do you want to acquire knowledge for a self-employment? As you can see, there are various reasons to motivate yourself to study. You should definitely make clear why you learn so hard and why you take all the stress on you. So you will approach your work much more motivated. It can also help if you are doing a visualization exercise. Simply close your eyes and imagine how you got a good grade in your exam.

It depends on the right learning environment

The learning environment can significantly influence your performance. You should make sure that you learn in a quiet place. Or are you a person who can better learn in a café? What is the right place for you to learn depends on your preferences and your character. Similarly, there are people who can perform better in a chaotic environment than in an orderly environment. You have to be able to know where you feel good. Just try it! Learn a few hours in the library and at home. Does calm affect you positively? Then you compare your learning performance in the cafeteria or student café. If you have tried both options, you will know exactly where you can learn best. From time to time, it may even make sense to change the learning environment.

Celebrate milestones

When you prepare for an exam, you should not only look forward, but also celebrate your work so far. Always remember what you have already done. If you look into the future, you only see a big mountain full of work – not exactly productive! It is important to celebrate the way or the process of preparing for a retreat, otherwise your motivation may suffer.

It is recommended to divide the exam preparation into milestones right from the start. For example, a milestone may look like you’ve spent another week studying intensively, or have finished learning a module, or gone through numerous test exams. Reward yourself with something sweet, a visit to a nice restaurant or with your friends or your partner. So you have a reasonable reason to let yourself be distracted, because it has been proven time and again that it helps to change the focus. If you concentrate on learning all the time, your motivation and effectiveness will be reduced. But if you switch off in between, you will be much more effective while learning.

How do I optimally prepare for an exam?

The test is pending – no need to panic. The first thing to do is to make a solid plan. How much is actually to do? How much time do you actually have for this, minus the amount of time you can not actually spend on a side job, hobbies or other obligations? These are the most important tips:

To narrow down the subject matter

Of course it can not be wrong to really learn everything for the exam. The reality, however, is that a lecturer will address topics that are relevant to the exam, or at least give hidden clues. Pay attention to it and develop a sensitivity for it. If you succeed, you will be able to prepare much more efficiently for the exam. However, if you try to learn everything, it often means that many topics can only be learned superficially. Regarding the limitation of the study material, you should also take all the relevant lecture materials of the current and previous semester from older fellow students to hand. These include lecture content, scripts, notes, exercises and rehearsals.

Create a plan

After you have identified the learning content relevant to the course, you create a learning plan. At first glance, this procedure can be associated with additional work. And that’s it. However, the extra effort is realistically low. The advantage is, however, that you divide up the entire study material into small work packages, which you work through step by step. Thus, you can always focus on the current work package instead of just seeing the entire mountain of work ahead of you. This approach allows you to better focus and to cope with the learning in time for the exam. Do you have a plan to get learning for exams without panic attacks based on the same principle as writing without writer’s block.

Create summaries

Now you are actively starting to deal with the subject matter. This step requires a lot of time and effort. You now have to go through the scripts and create summaries for each chapter. This is not so easy, because it requires that you restrict yourself to the essentials. So that you can better structure the learning material and retrieve it faster and easier during the exam, it is recommended to use a mind map. With this method, you can categorize your knowledge so that the learning content sticks much better in your memory. In addition to the individual summaries, you create an ultimate summary. This should not be longer than one page. This summary has the advantage that you once again gather the most important of the important. And another tip, if you do not want to summarize scripts, but literature: An excerpt gives a good overview!

Shortly before the exam, you take all the summaries at hand and you go through again and again, you are confident. It will be enough if you use your summaries again half a week before the exam. Summaries can be made on a notepad or with a booklet. Experience has shown that index cards are particularly useful because they make it easier to structure the substance.

The learning material always bring to mind

When you have written the summaries, you have created a proper foundation for you. Now you take the summaries again to hand and go through them until you can memorize the subject matter. This process does not necessarily have to be dry. You can also form a learning group, where you query each other with index cards. For example, there is a question on the front, while the answer is noted on the back. Finally, you can talk to the subject on a dictaphone, and then play this. For example, this can work if you are on your way to college.

Benefit from high performance

Some people like to study during the day, others prefer to learn at night. If you are among those who are most prolific early in the morning, you should go to bed early in the evening so you can perform well in the morning. Maybe you are also one of the people who learn late at night? Then you are the guy who enjoys the silence around him. Learning at night does not allow us to think about the everyday things in everyday life. Our mind thus has better capacity and we can concentrate fully on the study. The fact is that learning is not exactly productive. You have to find out at what time of the day you can do the best. Then you only learn at these times, and thus become more efficient, because you can then use the unproductive side in good conscience to relax.

Learning in a group

Surely you have already heard that learning in a group is effective. The fact is that by learning in a group, you can understand and understand the context of what you have learned much better. That’s because in the group you can explain each other the substance. The explanatory profits just as much as the one who gets something explained. Learning in the group also makes you feel stronger and more self-confident when all participants motivate each other. But beware! Learning groups can also achieve the opposite effect, namely, when low-performing members in a group go nuts and confuse each other.


You should consider in good time what you may take with you to the exam. As a rule, these are a calculator, a law book, a collection of formulas, a dictionary, etc. Usually, your lecturer will give hints shortly before the exam.

Furthermore, you should inform yourself in time, where the exam will take place, because sometimes a retreat is also held in another faculty at the other end of the city. In this case, you should find out how you best on public transport on time for the exam appear.

Not only you, but also your fellow students are stressed shortly before the exam. Unfortunately, there are also students who have not prepared themselves so well and therefore spread much panic. Keep away from these people, as they can easily get you off balance.