Advice from a Nerd: How to Ace a Big Test

Got a big exam coming up? Maybe you're still figuring out how to ace your final exams, or perhaps you're gearing up for the state exams for college? Sometimes, just one challenging subject can make you feel like you're losing your mind. By following these 11 expert tips from a seasoned nerd, you'll find it a breeze.


The key will definitely be proper time management. It's crucial to divide the workload in a way that allows the brain to process data efficiently. Thoughtful time management is important not only in the short term, such as during any one unit of study or the final few days before an exam, but also in terms of long-term preparation strategy.


First and foremost, forget advice like "How to learn at the last minute." That's really a fallback for when you've wasted every possible exam date.  Unless you're a genius, the classic last-minute cram session won't guarantee you a good result. Sure, it doesn't make you feel twice as comfortable, but once you've decided to study, there's a certain amount of responsibility that comes with it.


Create a study plan where you divide your learning into different topics. Determine the appropriate time needed for each topic to absorb the information. Base this on the quantity, breadth, and complexity of the material. Consider your past experiences to identify which topics you found easier to grasp and which ones posed challenges. 


Ensure the sequence of topics is not haphazard. Instead, arrange them chronologically to maintain their interrelatedness. Knowing which topic follows the previous one and understanding why is half of the battle. Understanding the context in which the next topic builds upon the previous one will not only enhance your overall comprehension but, more importantly, aid in cementing it firmly in your memory.


Try to spread your knowledge over as wide spectrum as possible. While it's ideal to have a firm grasp of all fifty questions, unless you're aiming for perfection, having a basic understanding across most topics is more advantageous than excelling in just a few. So, study comprehensively and gradually deepen your knowledge. While quantity rarely trumps quality, in this case, it does hold certain advantages.


Review the material throughout the year. Even an undergraduate who juggles between lectures and part-time jobs, while still maintaining a social life, will inevitably encounter periods of downtime during the day. So why not swap Instagram for something more educational? Instead, try mentally organising the fragments of your memory and piecing them together into a more cohesive body of knowledge. You'll thank yourself later when you successfully pass your state exams.


Having spent some time in this world, you likely understand your body's rhythms quite well. You know when you're at your freshest and most receptive to new information. It's during these times that you should logically focus on your activities. Unless you're a night owl, it's generally best to start first thing in the morning.


In the morning, not only will you be more mentally alert, but you'll also vanquish the enemy of procrastination that plagues everyone. Prioritise work over leisure. Motivate yourself by tackling unpleasant tasks in the first half of the day, leaving the evening free for more enjoyable activities. It's a simple but highly effective strategy.


Be demanding of yourself, but also be kind. When you provide your brain with everything it needs, it will reward you. Begin with ensuring you get enough sleep, as it not only enhances your mental freshness but also improves your ability to retain new information. Pay attention to your study environment; it should be comfortable and free of distractions. Regularly balance hard work with relaxation, whether it's through physical activity, listening to music, or simply doing things that bring you joy.


Time management comes into play here as well. While each of us is unique, certain approaches tend to be beneficial overall. Seek advice and inspiration. The Pomodoro time management technique, for example, is based on the finding that cycles of twenty-five minutes of focused study followed by a five-minute break are highly effective. After four such cycles, allow yourself a slightly longer break, perhaps fifteen minutes. Continue in this pattern, but avoid exceeding a maximum of seven hours in one day.


Of course, there are plenty of tricks that should be ingrained in your memory, many of which you likely encountered in primary school.

For visual learners, creating their own new notations is highly beneficial. Instead of using a computer, jotting down notes by hand in a notebook works best. Especially for those with a photographic memory, structuring notes, drawing diagrams, or highlighting text in colour aids in better recall.

Auditory learners benefit from repeating the material out loud or creating and listening to recordings of lectures.

Kinesthetic learners excel at mnemonic devices, their minds serving as reservoirs of associations.

For communicative learners, interaction with others is key to their understanding.

Reviewing material with other students can truly bring it to life. It's also a good idea to consult upperclassmen about the specific requirements of each professor.

Hopefully, this nerdy advice will help you at least a little, and you'll pass your important exam calmly and with flying colours.

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Advice from a Nerd: How to Ace a Big Test

Read on for 11 effective tips on how to prepare for an important exam. Approach it scientifically, as advised by an experienced nerd, and you're sure to pass.