How To Read And Understand For Exams?

When it comes to studying for exams there are a lot of things that can get in your way and most of the times, the biggest obstacle is yourself.

Therefore this post will discuss how you can read and understand for exams.

I chose this topic because it is the most talked about online, especially in student communities.

Exam preparation is important and you need the right approach to at least have a decent shot at being ready.

This post is universal in the sense that it will apply to different levels of education so don’t be afraid to use some of these techniques just because you’re in high school or at any lower level…

With that said, let’s look into how you can read and understand for exams.

Get a copy of the syllabus

The first step in getting ready for an exam is knowing what you’re up against.

This usually means knowing the material you need to cover and you’ll usually be told what’s to come (in certain situations).

For somebody looking to pass an exam, knowing what you’re up against is simply getting a copy of the syllabus.

The syllabus or course out line gives you all the topics you need to study and the key things you have to take note of which are the sub headings or points beneath the main topics.

The syllabus or course outline will show you everything that you need to cover and most of the time the beginning of each topic will have you know what should be learnt and understood after studying the topic.

Know what is to be covered

Like I’ve hinted in the previous point, sometimes you may be told what the exam is going to cover and other times you may not be told.

This gets a little tricky but it doesn’t make studying impossible.

All you should do in such situations is study everything or basically go through your class notes so you get a clear idea of what’s been covered by your tutor/teacher.

The best practice is studying everything to ensure that you don’t get caught off guard.

Use the recommended resources

Students often times ignore what they should take shouldn’t and I’ve seen this so many times.

For example, most students overlook the resources recommended to them and this is a mistake.

The recommended resources are usually used as reference material when your examiners prepare exam questions, therefore, ignoring these resources is ignoring your right to pass.

i recommend that you use the resources recommended for your course.

You can also take matters into your own hands and simply ask the tutor what other material you can use to prepare for the course/subject…

Note taking

Now that we’ve discussed some smart things to do before you even begin to study let’s get into a good way to read so you can pass your exams.

One of the good ways to read and study for exams is by taking notes.

Note taking is an effective study strategy because it allows you to note down the key points that are necessary for your understanding.

The key points are the foundation on which all explanations are made. Therefore, train yourself to pick out the key things in your study material.

You can also refer to your class notes for this.

Your tutor in lectures will obviously point out the key things to you…. and you can then build on them in your study sessions.

Note making

This is related to note taking except you’re not noting down the key points.

In note making you’re making your own notes…written according to your own understanding …of the material you’ve studied.

This is where you test your knowledge and basically vet your understanding.

You have to be diligent and accountable by ensuring that you don’t check the study material when you get stuck in your note making.

The right thing to do is write as much as you can remember and then go back to what you may have missed.

Make summary key points

It’s important that you make notes that go indepth and to test your understanding.

However, you also have to develop the ability of shortening down your notes to consumable points.

The reason for this is, summarizing your notes in your own way is a great way to piggyback on them in your exams.

It is easy to remember two sentences of a key point than five pages of its it’s explanation.

You can use this mode of thinking to create your own summarised points so you can easily remember them as well as understand them further.

Make notes on potential questions

As you’re studying your material you’ll run into key things. These things can be potential sources of questions that may be brought in your exam.

The best way to handle these key things is to try and form your own questions which may possibly show up on your exam paper.

Try and frame multiple questions and then figure out the answers.

You can also type the questions you come up Google search and go through the results.

You may find questions related to your own.

You can then get these questions and answer them… the framing of such questions will also provide hints of how you can come up with your own questions.

Use past exam papers to your advantage

Past exam papers are an underrated cheat code…

You should not over look them. Past exam papers offer you a free tour into the examiners mind…

The way they set questions and how they come up with them…

It’s good to focus on getting as many past exam papers answered …but it’s also important to get a glimpse of how questions are asked.

This can help you in figuring out possible questions that your examiner may bring .

Use marked course work

Marked course work is another great resource for picking up possible questions and answers.

With marked course work, you’ll get a good idea of how examiners mark question papers and the criteria they use to determine whether answers are correct or not.

Which is why you have to pay attention to the marks they award to answers and the comments they make regarding the answers.

This will give you context as to how you should answer questions in accordance with what your examiner wants.

Talk to people that I’ve already passed the exam

Preparing for an exam is hard work and stressful too. Sometimes you just need to do some reasearch.

Reach out to people that I’ve sat for the same exam that you’re about to sit for and ask lots of questions.

The answers you get from the questions you ask should be able to point you in the right direction.

This is the only point of this exercise.

Practice answering questions under exam conditions

Another good way to study for your exams is to try to answer questions under exam conditions.

Get a past exam paper, preferably one without answers.

Then try to answer it under exam conditions.

Follow the time and follow exam procedures.

Use the Internet as a resource

The Internet is a powerful tool and it is limitless. Use it in your studies.

Whenever you’re stuck google your questions or watch tutorials online…

There are various resources out there that can help get you unstuck. All you have to do is utilize them.

Discuss the course with your colleagues

Group discussions are important in studying. They allow you to share what you know as well as gain knowledge from other group members.

This is vital in sharpening your knowledge while acquiring some more.

So don’t underestimate the power of group study sessions.

Partner with the right people and you’ll be home and dry.

Revise, Revise, Revise

The best way to cement your knowledge is to revise, revise and revise some more.

Keep going over what you’ve studied to understand it better.

Don’t read once and let go of the book.

Read and study, take a break…and  then come back and go through your study notes.

This is how you make the knowledge stick better.

More Articles You Should Read

How Can I Love Studying?

How Do I Know If I’m A Good Reader?

What Are Some Effective Study Strategies?

Should You Take Notes When Reading?

Helpful Resources

Exam Preparation: Ten Study Tips | Top Universities

Tips on Reading and Writing Exams – Education

How to Study For Exams (with Pictures) – wikiHow

Reading for understanding | UNSW Current Students