Five Trusted Exam Prep Tips for All Students

By Huntington Learning Center

Few students love studying for tests but knowing how to do so effectively can transform their academic career. Eileen Huntington of Huntington Learning Center says that there are certain practices that make exam prep of all types more productive and successful. “Some students freeze up when it comes to test preparation, even if they actually understand a subject,” says Huntington. “There are several things students can do when studying to consistently improve their performance on exams and prove their knowledge.”

She offers these exam prep tips taught by Huntington:

  1. It’s essential that students make a plan to study smart by allocating their study time appropriately. Reviewing areas that they know well and ignoring those they don’t is likely to result in a grade that’s lower than it could have been. The best approach is to use any review sheet or overview of what will appear on the test as a starting point.
  2. Create a study schedule. The single-most important exam preparation tip from Huntington: be consistent with study time. The best way to do this is to create a detailed schedule leading up to an exam date. This deters procrastination, spaces out studying, and keeps students focused on material that will be covered on their test. A study schedule helps students maximize study time and minimizes stress.
  3. Prepare the space and the mind. To study effectively, students must get into the right mindset and prepare their space for studying. This means removing any distractions, getting comfortable and flipping that switch to study mode. Students should print out the study schedule and gather any needed supplies (e.g. highlighters and sticky notes) while setting goals for each study session on what to cover.
  4. Use practice exams whenever possible. Taking practice tests is one of the best ways for students to get familiar with question types, test length, and material. If available for practice—as in an SAT or ACT exam prep course, for example—students should take advantage.
  5. Don’t shortchange the sleep. Busy students often forgo sleep for studying when they’ve got a big test coming up, but sleep deprivation can lead to worse academic performance. Late-night/all-night cram sessions make it hard for students to focus well and recall information.


Huntington explains that preparing for tests and quizzes does not come naturally to all students. “We see often that even bright students struggle with exam prep because of the inherent pressure that it brings,” she says. “It’s important to correct those poor test preparation habits early so that by the time students get to college, they’re better equipped for success.”

To learn more about how Huntington helps students of all ages adopt essential study skills, including effective exam preparation, call Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN