Scoring high in class can be a challenge. When you know what’s on the test, it doesn’t have to be.
What if you knew exactly what was going to be on your next test?
Do you think you could score higher? You bet. Right? Do you think studying would be easier? You’re damn right it would be easier. Do you think you’d be more likely to study? Definitely.
You’d end up:
- Studying faster
- Scoring higher
- Feeling more relaxed
It’s difficult to study long hours. No one enjoys picking up their textbooks and giving up all the fun stuff they could be doing. Most students force themselves through every step of the process. Then, when they get mediocre results, they start thinking that more suffering will help them next time around (but they never study more.) It’s a hopeless process.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
There are things you can do to make studying significantly less painful and a whole lot more effective. You can set yourself up with effective habits. You can build productive relationships with your teacher. You can use powerful study strategies. Most importantly, you can set awesome priorities.
The key to setting up awesome priorities can come down to asking “What’s on the test?” (It’s not always everything. This will come down to using your syllabus effectively.)
Using a few simple strategies you can answer that question with almost perfect accuracy…
I think I should emphasize this point.
Without directly cheating, you’ll only get 90-95% accuracy on predicting what information is on the test.
1 in 20 of your classes may throw you for a loop.
1 in 20 questions on the test may throw you for a loop.
That’s the fundamental problem with trying to plan on stuff that has an element of randomness to it. For all we know, the teacher accidentally put a stupid question on the test. There is an element of unpredictability that you shouldn’t be prepared for. If you were prepared then you’d have to wonder how much extra time you wasted to luck into knowing something stupid.
Predicting what’s on the exam can give you an A but it won’t necessarily push you into A+ territory. (That’s a land reserved for folks that probably have poor priorities anyway. You can get an A in less than half the time of your average A+.)
How To Figure Out What’s On The Test
Here is a dirty little secret most people won’t tell you about exams:
Teachers want you to do well.
Your success is a reflection of their own success. When you score high, they get happy hormones pumping through their body because they believe they succeeded.
Here is less of a secret:
Most students don’t care much about getting mediocre grades. Sure, they may flinch at a low grade but they’d never spend an extra hour studying to improve it. They sure as hell don’t look up and read study blogs like this one. (Yes… you’re in a special category of students that care.)
How do teachers get these lazy students that don’t care to do well on the test?
Usually… they just hand the tests over… Well… kind of… They give every bit of information the student needs to beat the test.
These ideas are listed in order of importance:
Test Prep Handouts
When your teacher hands you anything to help you study for the test, USE IT.
Teachers often go directly through their own tests and list stuff to study based on the questions. They’re essentially rewriting the questions to the test in “Jeopardy” format.
They see the question: Who was the Tsar of Russia during World War 1?
And they might write you need to study about: Nicholas II or the fall of the Russian Empire or something else that would take you right to the information that you need to know.
The most important point to realize is this:
Teachers rarely write down stuff that is not important for the test. They’re telling you almost exactly what to study. More importantly, they’re telling you almost exactly what you don’t need to study!
If something isn’t on the study guide then you usually shouldn’t waste your time studying it. Even if information shows up on the test unexpectedly you could politely ask why it wasn’t on the study guide and potentially regain those lost points.
Focus almost exclusively on this information. (The only exception is when you know the teacher throws students for a loop on their tests.)
Just like teachers try to hand you rewrites of the test, they virtually always give this information away during their lectures. This is particularly useful when your teacher doesn’t hand out some kind of a study guide. Focusing in class is absolutely essential to make this work.
You don’t have to write thorough notes in class but you should always have a notebook available to write down the points that your teacher is emphasizing in class.
If your teacher spends 20 minutes talking about something then write it down.
If your teacher slows down to mention something that sounds important then write that down.
SERIOUSLY… if the teacher tells you something is going to be on the test… WRITE THAT DOWN!
Your teacher is usually telling you exactly what you need to know for tests, quizzes, and exams. The main exception to this is the “ahead in the semester problem” that I’ll tell you about later. Really though, count on it most of the time and you’ll do fine.
Teachers don’t assign work for kicks.
They want to prepare you for the test. If you do all of your work then there is a reasonable chance you’ll be prepared for the test. While it may not always be worth doing work for the points, it may be worth it for the test prep.
If you’re going through your textbook and find information that your teacher never asked you to do an assignment about, there is a good chance it won’t be on the test.
(Some teachers do go a little nuts in this area. If you catch a teacher ask you questions out of the textbook reading that they never hinted at somewhere else then you have to adjust your approach accordingly.)
Focus Your Efforts
The key to scoring kick-ass grades without spending much time is focusing your efforts.
You only have so much time to study.
The more time you waste studying information that you don’t need to know, the more time you’re not studying information that you need to know. That leaves you with the classic familiar but not prepared feeling (when you know you studied the answer but you can’t quite remember it.)
Once you realize how much less time you end up having to study, you’ll appreciate the near perfect test scores. You’ll also appreciate not having to sacrifice all your time to get them.
What strategies do you use to predict what’s going to be on the test? Comment below.
Aaron Richardson took his grades from fighting F’s to Easy A’s. In the process, he read over 300 books on personal development. Today he’s founded 2 blogs on studying including Smart Student Secrets. He’s written 3 books on the subject. His work has been featured on some of the biggest news, psychology, and student sites on the internet.
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Does that mean you never study again? I hope you keep studying. That’s not the point.
The point: studying is only one tool in a successful student’s toolbox.
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