Testing and examinations seem to be part of life whether you're a student, a professional looking to qualify for a license, or keeping up with accreditation. Whatever the reason for your exam taking, it will serve a person well to review the following tips to success. While there is nothing to take the place of good study, there are certainly other activities that can help you achieve success.
Start the process early and lay out a plan. This is especially true for college entrance and professional licensing exams where one must fit studying into an existing schedule. Plan out at least six months before the exam date where you need to be methodical and deliberate. Break things down into manageable chunks and stick to the schedule. Include key dates for registration, practice exams, test prep courses and the like. For your study plan, break things into subject matter and sub-categorize from there. Studying with a specific purpose and goal is much more effective.
Make those around you aware that you're preparing for an exam. This will give you the leeway to focus on the task at hand - passing your exam - and not having to worry about too many obligations. This is especially important if you are working where telling it to your boss and colleagues could help a lot. They may be able to at least temporarily lighten your workload (or at least not add to it) so you can adequately prepare. Also ask friends and family to help you study and prepare. It will make a solitary task a little less lonesome.
Activate different learning modes. Reading is not really the most efficient way to learn, but of course, it is necessary. Think about ways to involve the other senses to retain knowledge. For example, note taking is important, but there are different modes of note taking that might be more beneficial, such as creating a mind map (search online for instructions). Conventional wisdom says that teaching someone a subject improves learning, so take some time, and explain difficult materials to a friend. Often, one can find lectures online or on DVDs at the local library.
Along the same line, consider exam preparation services. These companies have perfected the art of exam taking, both from a learning standpoint, and also from the point of test taking strategy. While some of these courses can be expensive, depending on the exam you're taking, it could be well worth it as some cases of failing the exam can have a huge impact on future earnings. If one can't commit to a full course, you might consider a one-day seminar, which provides exam taking tips that can be very enlightening.
Practice exams are important parts of the process, especially for standardized tests. No one should go into an exam without taking a practice test. Most are available online or in published study guides. Be sure to take the exam practice seriously by setting aside a quite spot and time for yourself, properly according to the instructions. Note any weak areas and adapt studying schedule accordingly.
Lastly, take care of yourself physically. It takes good health to properly prepare for exams so focus on better nutrition, exercise, and overall health. Good exam preparation is about dedication and discipline. With a good plan, there's no reason one should not be successful.