In some ways, studying is not so much researching as it is practicing. In order to perform well on a test, it’s essential to “practice” your knowledge: providing answers to specific questions, understanding definitions, and being ready to show your work.
Unfortunately, many of the traditional methods of quizzing yourself before a test fall short in the “practice” department. Sure, they give you simple “A to B” formulas, but they don’t necessarily require you to understand an answer at an intuitive level. Consequently, many study methods aren’t as efficient as they could be.
If you want to be fully confident in your knowledge before a test, it will help for you to practice taking tests the same way a football player might practice for the game: by simulating the test itself. Here are three ways to do just that:
Reach Out to New Resources to Truly Test Your Knowledge
When you’re studying in advance of a test, that’s the time to challenge yourself. That’s the time to find out your weaknesses, the gaps in your knowledge—not on the day of the test. That’s why it’s important to find new resources that help you test your knowledge. If you’re studying geography according to the notes you have, maybe you could try an online geography quiz that will ask you different questions—or similar questions in a different way—to better understand if there are any gaps in your understanding.
One word of warning: use these results to evaluate your performance as is relevant to the test you’re studying for: don’t study for the wrong test. Remember: this is the “practice” period, a time to identify the gaps in your knowledge. Make a note of those gaps and continue studying in much the way you have been.
Simulate the Testing Environment
One of the most important ways to feel truly prepared for a test is to expose yourself to the testing environment as much as possible. Have a friend or tutor sit you down one day, give you a test that you haven’t seen before, and give you a time limit. If that requires re-arranging the furniture in your living room to replicate the test environment, so be it! You’d be amazed at how practicing even the smallest of details can help you to feel prepared when the actual test comes.
Of course, simulating the testing environment won’t help unless you’re able to use an effective practice test, consisting of the same types of questions you can expect to see on the big test. So make sure that you don’t forget about those details, either.
Having an outside perspective is important in more ways than one: a tutor can help construct quizzes and tests along the way that truly do “test” your knowledge and identify where you need to spend more time in your studies. A good tutor will understand how to quiz you in a way that tests your understanding of answers and not merely your rote memorization, which will further help you instill a sense of confidence before the big exam.