Preparing for exams and tests

Learn how to revise and prepare for exams and tests.

How to find out what is in an exam

Start by finding out exactly what you will be tested on. You may not need to revise all course content, so knowing what to focus on will help you narrow down your study.

  • Talk to your lecturer or tutor if you are unsure or have any questions.
  • Check the course outline for key learning outcomes and information about the exam.
  • Look at past exam papers to find out what is expected. To find past exam papers, search the Library website by entering your course code, e.g. ECON 152.
  • Attend lectures and tutorials right up until the exam. These often contain useful tips, as well as providing an opportunity to ask questions.

How to plan your exam study

How to revise

  • Revising lecture slides and notes is a good way to start your study. Identify topics, themes, issues or concepts that are likely to be in the exam or test.
  • Use mind maps, diagrams and flowcharts to organise your notes in a more visual format.
  • Look at past exam papers to predict the scope of the topic and exam structure. For example, is the exam multiple choice or will you need to write essays?
  • To revise for specific types of test and exam questions have a look at Exam questions.
  • Try the Pomodoro technique to help you manage your study time more effectively and overcome procrastination.

Tip: Focus your study by having a list of realistic revision tasks you want to achieve while you’re revising. For example:

  • Review and summarise lecture notes and slides from Weeks 4-6.
  • Organise them into key themes or concepts.
  • Identify key words and phrases to use in the exam.


Flashcards are a great way to test your knowledge of key words and concepts.

  • You can write a word or phrase, or draw a picture on one side, and put the definition or description on the other side.
  • Try Quizlet and StudyBlue for creating online sets of flashcards.


Mnemonics are strategies you can use to remember information.

  • For example, you can use the acronym ROYGBIV (Red, Orange, Yellow, Blue, Indigo, Violet) to remember the colours of the rainbow.
  • Acrostics are also helpful for recalling certain facts or information. For example, try this one for the first nine elements of the periodic table: Harry He Likes Beer Bottled Cold, Not Over Frothy.

Test yourself

  • Practise past exam questions to test your understanding and identify any gaps in your knowledge.
  • Time yourself to make sure you can answer questions within the set period.

Work together

  • Form a study group to share ideas and get feedback. Working with friends or classmates can also help you to stay motivated and focused during your revision.
  • A great way to work out if you have understood a topic or concept is to explain it to someone else (a friend, parent, sibling, and so on). If this is difficult, then go back to your notes, textbooks or discussion boards.
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