Preparing For Exams

Techniques to help you PASS

What kind of test taker are you?

Just the thought of an upcoming test causes significant stress. Anxiety alone can be so intense it can affect your performance making studying difficult and almost impossible.

So what is your test taking style? Are you "The Rusher", "The Turtle", "The Personalizer", "The Second Guesser", "The Philosopher", or The "Squisher"?

Click on the link to rate your style. This will be a good starting point to identify which techniques will benefit you the most to help you pass your exams.

Let's get ready to PASS

Now that you have an idea of your test taking style let's review some techniques that will help you succeed.

P is for PREPARE

There are many components involved in successful preparation. You will want to:

  • Ask questions related to the type of questions that will be on the test and the format
  • Clarify information you are unclear on
  • Review notes
  • Seek tutoring
  • Join a study group

A is for ASSESS

Stop and reflect. Is your head in it? Are you ready to dive in?

You will want to:

  • Assess your anxiety level
  • Identify negative thoughts that cause test anxiety
  • Use positive self talk to rid those thoughts and anxiety
  • Visualize pleasant thoughts and success
  • Praise yourself


Preparing for a test involves more than just reviewing your notes. You need a plan, a pathway to success.

You will want to:

  • Ask your instructor for suggestions on taking their test
  • Seek supplemental instruction sessions
  • Ask your study group to share techniques that have yielded success
  • Write down major concepts during note taking
  • Reorganize your notes into outlines or flash cards to help reinforce learning
  • Keep a regular study schedule


Stress can be silent and you can experience it without knowing it. Preparation for an exam requires a great deal of focus. You will want to:

  • Take 10-15 minute breaks each hour of studying
  • Eat a balanced meal and exercise
  • Get good sleep, rest well
  • Deep breathe or meditation to help focus
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol
  • Positive self talk

Helpful Links

The following links provide additional information and techniques on how to prepare for exams.

Dartmouth Academic Skill Center

Mercer University Study Skills Page