Top Tips

  • Start studying early

    By starting a few weeks before the big test, you will have time to learn the material thoroughly. Feeling prepared can help reduce test-related stress. 

  • Create a study plan

    A study plan allows you to identify key concepts that will be tested and allocate time accordingly. Ask your instructor for the test format (i.e., multiple choice, short answer, essay) and topic breakdown. Determine how long you will spend studying on each topic and how you will study each topic. Study sessions should be no longer than 50 minutes before a break is taken. Set up your study environment so that it is free from distractions.

  • Get a study buddy

    Getting together with two or three classmates to form a study group helps you study in a whole different way. It's important to study with someone who you won't get off track with. Try asking people you "sort of know" from class. You can use this time to brush up on concepts you didn't quite understand, that other classmates might have down pat. Explaining something you understand to another student is a great way to organize your thoughts and will help you articulate them during the exam.

  • Use active strategies like flashcards
    Research shows that students who use active learning strategies will spend less time studying and perform better on tests than students who study passively! Make summary sheets, mind maps, graphic organizers, study cards and/or complete practice problems. When studying, stop to check for understanding, reflect on your learning, and make connections to other concepts. Practice explaining concepts to a friend, or book an appointment with a tutor, to ensure that you have a solid understanding.
  • Put yourself to the test

    Prepare for the real deal by quizzing yourself on the course material. Practice taking past versions of the exam or test. This helps you get used to the format and wording of the questions and you can time yourself. If you are in a Trades and Appreticeship program, check out these practice questions for writing your Red Seal exam. 


How do I get the most out of studying for tests and exams?

First create a study plan to help you determine what material you need to cover and when you plan to study it. Earn better grades on your next test by incorporating these test taking strategies into your plan. To improve how much information you are able to remember check out these memory tips and try using some active study strategies. Want to know more about how memory works? Check out this infographic.

How do I answer different types of questions on tests and exams? 

Not all tests will have the same format and often include a variety of types of questions. Check out these suggestions to help you answer multiple choice questions as well as essay and short answer questions. The 10 steps to taking a math test has some great tips for tackling any test!

I spend time studying, but I'm not sure if it is working. What should I be doing? 

First, find out if where you are currently studying is a good place. Try a practice test or review questions to see how well you do. Explain concepts to a friend, a tutor, or a study group. Finally, attend a study skills drop-in and discuss your study habits with a Learning Skills Advisor.

How do I know what will be on the exam and practice for it? 

Read your course outline. Learning outcomes are listed for each unit - treat these like practice questions. Ask your instructor for more details about the exam.