Exam season is stressful for anyone, but when you have tests coming up that dictate your entire future, the stress can be absolutely overwhelming. Those in the medical or law field will be very familiar with these types of exams, but just because you know they are coming doesn’t make them any easier to deal with.
Yes, you have more advance warning, but without the right strategy and time, you won’t be able to comfortably pass the exam. After all, these exams aren’t just a one-and-done deal. You are expected to be able to draw from that vast wealth of knowledge at a moment’s notice – and then continually expand your knowledge from there.
For the sake of your career and your future patients or clients, it’s important that you use these top tips. Not only will they help you pass that exam with flying colors, but they will also help you absorb and memorize that information for the future, too.
1. Start Early
Thankfully, exams like the LSAT are standard. You need to take the LSAT to get into law school, and then you need to take the bar exam to become a lawyer. There is no surprise test coming up, regardless of whether you have to study for it around your current studies or while you are working.
That’s why it’s important to start early. If you’re currently enrolled in school (and especially if you’re only just starting your education), look at every lecture, seminar, and workshop as an opportunity to develop a comprehensive study guide. You won’t necessarily use that study guide when it’s time to cram, but it will be instrumental when it comes to creating your study guide and taking the pressure off learning it entirely.
2. Write in Your Own Words
If you think that putting together notes for class is as easy as copying down what is said during a lecture or copying and pasting from your textbook, think again. The single best way to make sure you remember the concepts and information is to rewrite that information and explain it to yourself. Everyone has unique learning quirks, which means rewriting that content can immediately make it easier to understand, faster to understand, and, as a result, a breeze to memorize.
3. Revise Daily
If you want to say goodbye to those stressful cram sessions, the best thing you can do for yourself is to revise daily. Start by just reading through your notes and then, as time goes on, start to summarize those notes in your head. You can update your revision guide by deleting superfluous words until you essentially just have jot notes that act as prompts rather than information itself.
4. Put Yourself to the Test
Big exams like the LSAT, MBE, or shelf tests are standardized, which means you can actually take practice tests well in advance. In fact, answering LSAT practice questions as a daily exercise can help you breeze through the exam, help you with your law degree, and then, finally, even help you pass the bar exam (especially if you keep up the habit). Practice does make perfect, yes, but more importantly, getting used to those standardized questions can help you go into the testing period with less stress and greater confidence. Alongside things like the LSAT study guide, practice questions can really help you prepare.
After all, just revising information over and over can’t actually help you prepare for the real thing. Adding in practice questions and taking mock exams, however, can help take away that edge of the unknown and help you feel more confident going into the exam.
5. Stay Healthy
One of the best things you can do for yourself both during cram season and on the day of the exam itself is to stay healthy. In the lead-up to the exam, try to cut out foods that deregulate the body’s nervous system and instead switch to foods that help calm it. Foods high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, trans fat, and, in general, highly processed items are terrible for brain health. Switch over to foods packed full of nutrients and brain-boosting power, like leafy greens, items high in omega-3, and so on.
The night before, you will want to sleep well, so forget the studying and instead aim to go to bed early. You’ll also want to stay very hydrated throughout the week. On the morning of the exam, make sure you have a big breakfast with all of those brain-boosting benefits. Simply being awake, energized, and as stress-free as possible will help instrumentally.