Simple Study Skills

What’s the best way to prepare for a test? The trick is to start studying for tests with each homework assignment and class lecture. Consider that most topics presented in class will be covered on a future test. Therefore, students who listen actively in class, take good notes, and complete homework are already preparing for tests and demonstrating strong study skills. Your studying starts as soon as class begins.


Let’s reflect back on the last week:

  • What tests did you have this week?
  • How did you do on them?
  • What study techniques worked the best for you? Why?
  • Did you feel prepared for your tests?
  • Were you calm?

Sometimes, students think they have prepared for a test if they just reread their notes 10 minutes before the test. But remember, studying for tests is a process that starts in class.

Good studying means that you have been:

  • Attending classes
  • Actively listening and taking notes
  • Reviewing your notes regularly
  • Keeping up with assigned reading and taking notes on it
  • And, most important, reviewing your notes from lectures and texts before each class

Steps to Prepare for a Test

  • Listen to the teacher and take good notes.
  • Organize the materials that will be on the test.
    • This means putting your notes in order by date, keeping class handouts together, and knowing what material will be covered on the test.
  • Review past tests and quizzes to see the types of questions the teacher asks and the types of errors you make.
  • Note what kind of test it will be: open-note, multiple choice, or essay.    
  • Remember there are different strategies to use for each type of test, so knowing in advance what kind of test it will be can help guide your studying.
  • Review what study strategies have worked best for you in this class.
  • Plan your study time, fill out your planner, starting with the date of the test and work backwards. Schedule what topics you will review, how long each will take, and the dates and times you will review each.
  • Write down and schedule the tasks for each step of your review.
    • For example, will you be reading over your notes, creating a timeline, making flashcards with key vocabulary terms, etc.
  • Save the night before the test for reviewing, not learning new material.
    • You should never try to learn all of the material the night before. This night should be saved for a final review so you go into the test feeling confident.

Now, you might be asking yourself, “How do I actually study for a test?” The tips below are things to keep in mind when preparing to take a test:

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Taking a Test

  • Do I understand the directions?
  • Will I lose points for mistakes?
  • How much time do I have for each section?

Steps to Follow During a Test

  • Before you write anything, read the directions carefully.
  • Survey the entire test to get the big picture before you begin.
  • Determine what kind/kinds of questions you are being asked:
    • Multiple Choice
    • True/False
    • Short Answer
    • Essay
    • Math
  • Budget your time for each section of the test.
  • Slow down and calm yourself throughout the test.
  • Review the test thoroughly before you turn it in.

Questions to Ask Yourself After Taking a Test

  • Did I do as well on the test as I thought I did?
  • What mistakes did I make?
  • Did I study the right material and use my study time effectively?
  • Is there anything I can improve on next time?

Strong study skills need good executive functioning skills.

Take the Executive Functioning Quiz to learn your EF strengths and weaknesses.

Build study skills with the Executive Functioning Workbook.



Step-by-step worksheets and checklists designed by educational experts Melissa Mullin Ph.D. and Karen Fried PsyD MFT are the results of over 20 years of helping students succeed in school. The Executive Functioning Workbook provides easy to follow, hands-on guidance and support to help students organize, plan, and follow through on tasks.

What’s inside the Executive Functioning Book?

 *  Self-assessment in each school subject

  *  Scheduling time for homework and studying

  *  Setting academic and personal goals 

  *  Breaking down long-term projects into daily tasks

  *  Setting up a study space at home 

  *  Active reading and study skills

  *  Organizing a backpack

  *  Taking useful notes on lectures and texts

  *  Using a planner to track assignments 

  *  Test preparation and test-taking strategies

  *  Estimating how long homework will take 

  *  Tracking progress and setting new goals

Executive Functioning Workbook

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