How To Study For A Test: The Ultimate Guide

BookSummaryClub Blog How To Study For A Test: The Ultimate Guide

Do you have an upcoming test? Do you find study daunting AF?

Then you have come to the right place. This ultimate guide will show you how to study for any upcoming test and how you can get the most out of yourself on the big day.

These tips are coming from a teacher too, along with running this site, I am also a high school teacher.

In this article, you will learn how to create an active learning environment that encourages you to remember what you read.

There will be five main parts:

  • Your preparation
  • How to study
  • Improve your efficiency
  • Memory
  • Self-motivation


What You'll Learn

Preparation is all about making your studying environment conducive and suitable for you. You need a calm and quiet environment.

An optimized study environment allows your brain to take in the information you read and store it properly. You will then be able to retrieve it with ease during the actual test.

Optimizing your studying environment

There are several measures you need to take to ensure that your study environment is conducive.

Clean and organize your room or desk. Remove anything that may distract you from the table and arrange any scattered items on it.

A clean and well-arranged room helps you have a more accessible time learning.

Ensure the lighting is bright enough. Do not study in a dark room.

Your room should have enough lamps, and it should be well aerated. So, open up those windows and draw the curtains to set the right ambiance.

Gather all your learning materials. Keep all your textbooks and notes on the study table or next to it where you can reach them without having to stand up.

If you will be learning from a website, like the Get better grades now website, keep your laptop with you and make sure your Wi-Fi or data is functioning seamlessly.

Turn off the TV and keep away your phone. Multitasking will only ruin your study session, and these devices will act as mere distractions.

You can turn off all your phone notifications and only activate the relevant ones. Most phones can have their notifications customized.

Decide if music is right for you. Playing music as you study can improve your information absorption rate. However, for some, or it could impact you negatively. Classical music is known to improve memory performance.

Other forms of music you can listen to are nature sounds, instrumental music, or Mozart. All you have to do is make sure you are focused on what you are studying and not the music.

What to do when studying for a test

  1. Have an outlined plan of action – Don’t just dive into any random topic and start working on it, and then shift to another random one when you are done. Write down a plan detailing how you are going to cover all the relevant subjects. Allocate time for each based on how difficult you feel it is to you.
  2. Rewriting your notes – As you study, write down bullet points on what you are reading. Rewriting your notes refreshes your memory. After every topic, go through those points and see how much information you can remember about each. You can even use book summary apps to speed-read parts of your content.
  3. Internalizing the information – Ask yourself questions about everything you’ve learned at the end of the study session. Try to say the answers out loud instead of just thinking about them. This tactic helps you synthesize the information you have absorbed and understand it better.
  4. Take a practice test or quiz – If the test you are preparing for will cover former things you were taught, then this is an excellent idea to refresh your memory.

If you don’t have readily available tests to gauge yourself with, you can visit an online site that offers such services. This Get better grades now website will have all the quizzes and tests you will need to practice with.

hello sunshine notebook How to study efficiently for a test

Not all of these will be helpful to everyone. In fact, some are flat out contradictory to each other. Which basically means that we all study in different ways. You need to test what works and what doesn’t work for your learning.

Sticking to hard copies

Polls have shown that the majority of students prefer reading print and hard copy materials as opposed to using tablets, laptops, or other digital devices. While it’s okay to use them for studying, research shows that many people have to read and reread new information more times to understand it.

If you feel that reading notes on digital devices is slowing you down, it could be time you tried printing them. You may be surprised at how fast your study pace picks up.

Online learning

The internet has provided us with useful learning tools and online platforms where you can gain new information. Online learning is an excellent choice because the sites are regularly updated with the latest study tools that will enhance your experience.

A good example is the Get better grades now website. You will find courses, classes, and test papers, among other learning materials, to help you study better. The more you do them, the more acquainted you become with your studies, and the better you will be able to remember what you’ve learned.

Moreover, some learning websites can be interactive, which is a much better experience than studying by yourself in solace.

Studying as a group

One of the best things about studying as a group is that you are likely to gain new insights that will improve your learning experience. As your friends contribute to the discussions, you will not only learn new things, but you are more likely to remember what they said.

Reading aloud

As odd as it sounds, research has shown that it is one of the top methods you can use to remember what you’ve learned. If you usually read by yourself at home, this is a great idea to try out.

Reading aloud also helps reduce having to read a sentence over and over to retain it in your mind.

Testing yourself

Testing your skills improves your overall performance. Quizzes can help you figure out which topics you haven’t understood yet.

You can then schedule your study sessions to target areas where you feel farther behind. It becomes easier to pick up your study pace and increase it each time you revisit something you’ve tested yourself on.

You can visit the reliable Get Better Grades Now website to find the materials that will help you test yourself.


It is not healthy to study for three hours continuously without a single break in between. Your brain gets tired at some point. When you feel overwhelmed, take a short break. It’s recommended that you take a break after studying for 50 minutes.

Research shows that your brain slows down and stops absorbing information after studying continuously for an hour and a half. You will, therefore, not remember anything or most of the things you read after that.

Breaks refresh the mind, and they improve your concentration when you return to your studies.

Study during the right hours

Avoid studying when you are tired. Late night studying has no benefits because, on most occasions, your brain will be wasted and worn out. It will, therefore, not take in most of the information you will be reading. Moreover, you will have a difficult time understanding those important concepts.

The best time to read is early in the morning, preferably after you wake up. If you can’t find time in the morning, then take a nap before studying in the evening.

A nap will let your mind rest for a while and refresh it. Try not to push your evening study hours past 10 pm.

Know your learning style

Each person absorbs information optimally in different ways. Some visual learners have an easier time taking in details from pictures, graphs, or videos.

Such people would benefit a great deal from documentaries or YouTube videos explaining the concepts they are learning.

Other students are stimulated through auditory means. If you are such a person, record yourself reading the notes, and then listen to the recording later. Alternatively, you can read the notes out loud. This method actually helps enhance your information retention capability.

Finally, a physical person can walk around while he or she lectures to you.

Start as early as you can

Start preparing for that test as soon as you can. Even if it’s only one day away, then read for it from as early as the preceding morning. You can read at intervals within the day while giving yourself breaks.

Cramming information on the night before is ineffective because your brain hardly retains anything you’ve read.

The best time to start studying for a test is as early as two weeks prior to the test. When you begin preparing for a test that soon, you will have enough time to learn everything and review the topics you don’t understand well.

Use the right studying techniques

Different subjects require different approaches to how you study for them.

Theoretical subjects have a lot of information, and the best way to retain most of it is by reading and rereading it multiple times. Use this technique on humanities and subjects such as history and literature.

Other subjects, such as mathematics, require a more practical approach. You will need to practice solving the problems to understand them well.

This continuous practice also helps you learn how to solve them faster and, therefore, saves you time during the test.

Ask for help

If you have a difficult time understanding a concept, ask someone else to help you. This can be anyone around you, from your friends and family to your teacher or tutor.

You can also try to figure out what your teacher might put in the test based on past experiences. Alternatively, you can take a bold move and ask your teacher about the scope of the upcoming test.

There are also other resources that you can use to help you study. These include books from your school library or past papers from your school’s website. You can also visit a get better grades now website to see what resources they have to offer.

How to speed read and work quicker

Reading can be exhausting sometimes. No matter what genre you’re reading, it can be hard to read effectively.

It would come in handy if you could get through the sentences much faster and spend less time reading.

Many sites offer training to help you improve your reading speed, such as the Get better grades now website. They even provide other learning materials to boost your overall studying experience.

Whether you are reading a newspaper, a textbook, or any column on a website, here are some tips to help you improve your speed.

Ideas to help you learn how to speed read

Don’t talk to yourself

Most people spend time imagining and speaking to themselves as they read. It may help you remember the content, but it slows down your reading speed.

You can combat this habit by chewing gum to keep your jaw muscles occupied. If you mouth words as you read along, try holding a finger against your lips to stop the movement.

Improving your eye movement

You can only read when your eyes are not moving. It is common for eyes to jerk and hop from one sentence to another constantly. However, moving your eyes along each sentence from left to right makes you a very slow reader.

The best way to read a page is to look at it from afar and then read it without moving your eyes as you move from sentence to sentence. The fewer eye movements you make, the faster you will read.

Covering words that you have read

Sometimes our eyes dart back to previous lines to reread a sentence or look for skipped information.

If you have a chronic habit of doing this, you can use an index card to cover the words you have already read. This will help you make continuous progress and increase how fast you finish what you are reading.

Training methods that you can use to improve your reading speed

Timing yourself

Tracking your reading speed can help you improve it significantly. You should strive to beat your previous speed reading record, which can be a great motivator.

To know your reading speed:

  • Count the number of words on a page by multiplying the number of words in a line, with the average number of lines on a page. (You can use a Microsoft Word document, instead, if you don’t want to count the number of words yourself. It will show how many words are in the text on the bar at the bottom.)
  • Set a timer, perhaps for five minutes, and then see how many pages you can cover within that period.
  • Multiply the number of pages with the words per page.
  • Next, divide the number of words with the time you took to read them, and you will have your average reading speed.

Once you know what your reading speed is, you should then set goals on how to improve it. Milestones will motivate you and remind you that you are making progress.

Whatever you do, don’t stop practicing. The more you do it, the faster you will get.

Using RSVP software

If training yourself manually doesn’t work for you, then you can try using a Reading Rapid Serial Visual Presentation software. With this software, you choose the number of words you want to read per minute.

It will then show a single word at a time while moving at the chosen speed. For example, if you select 200wpm (words per minute), it will show one word at a time two hundred times within a minute.

There is RSVP software for both mobile phones and computers.

Learn to Speed Read

Skimming and speed reading

One of the main reasons why it’s essential to learn how to read fast is to help you in skimming texts. Skimming gives you a general overview of what the written material is talking about.

There are tactics of speed reading that can help you skim a text faster while still getting the main points from it. Let’s take a look at some of them:

    • Reading the main headings and subheadings – This works best for newspaper articles or magazines.


  • Reading through the beginning and the end of the article – The first and last paragraphs or chapters of a book, column, or any other written work can give you an insight into what it’s all about.
  • Reading the first sentence of a paragraph can also set your mind back on track if you are confused about what it entails. The first sentence typically holds the main points of the paragraph.
  • Marking important words along with the text – as you speed-read through an article, you can circle or underline important words or sentences. These can include the main ideas, phrases, quotes, italicized words, new words, etc.
  • Alternatively, you can use pictures and diagrams to understand the text they are referring to. You can also use book summaries to skim over topics.

What is the average reading speed?

If you are wondering how fast people read on average, here is a guideline to help you out.

Note that these are the expected reading speeds, and they can give you an idea of where you are or if your speeds are competent.

  • A 12-year-old child is expected to read 200-250 words per minute.
  • An average college student should be able to do 450wpm, while a fast reader in college covers about 700 wpm.
  • Competitive readers cover around 1,000wpm and above.

However, it is important to note that the higher the reading speed, the more the number of texts or words skipped. It may also be slightly different on a kindle or e-reader due to the different formats.

Most fast readers skim or scan over a text to get the main idea of what it’s about or look for a specific word or subject.

If you feel your reading speeds are inadequate, you can get help from online sites, such as the Get better grades now website, to guide you on how to improve.

How To Improve Memory and Concentration

Memory is especially crucial for students who need to pass exams to finish their studies.

Contrary to what we make ourselves believe, studying hard cannot and will not guarantee you better grades. Learn more about that (and more) at the Get Better Grades Now website.

You can spend an entire night cramming data into your head and still fail your test the following morning. That’s because your memory and concentration can be influenced by the stress of passing as well as your lifestyle.

What is remembering?

This process is what happens when we think about an event – your brain recalls the relevant pattern, and you remember what happened. However, if your memory hasn’t been strengthened over time, it will not be as easy to remember anything.

Although memory loss is normal when aging, there are ways to slow it down, especially if you’re still young.

As for students, it can become a very stressful situation when they’re worried about how to get those good grades that will help them secure a good future for themselves.

Getting better grades doesn’t mean you have to turn into a nerd or a “book worm”, as you will find out on the Get Better Grades Now website.

Here are a few ways you can help your brain to better hold on to memories so you can remember better.

The process of making memories and remembering them

Your brain is a complex and truly amazing thing that works in ways that are sometimes astounding. And all without any influence from us.

When you do something (anything, really), your brain sends signals in a specific and particular pattern that is associated with that event and then creates connections between your neurons – these are called synapses.

Making the memory stick

If nothing further happened, that memory will just go away – floating into the abyss or however you want to envision that.

However, your brain consolidates memories that it considers worth keeping. This is when your brain stores the memory to your long-term memory so you can remember it at a later time.

Most of this consolidating happens when we sleep, and the brain will recreate that pattern and strengthen the synapses it made earlier – ‘burning’ the memory into your brain.

Ways to improve memory and concentration


By making sure that you catch enough ZZZ’s at night, you’ll be giving your mind a way to process everything it learned during the day, and improve your mental ability to concentrate and recall information.

Try your best to keep to a healthy schedule (those 8 hours everyone keeps going on about) at all times – even weekends. Plus, avoid sleeping in, even when you had a late night. Wake up at the same time every day – your brain needs the routine.

You can even track your sleep with a fitness tracker, as discussed on Your Fitness Radar in their article on fitness trackers and sleep. 

Change your diet

This is a good idea for people of any age and any weight. Changing your diet can make a difference in your life that you don’t always realize – it helps your memory and your body too.

You can also eat berries for improved long-term memory. This is not a commonly-known fact, but blueberries or strawberries added to a diet can improve your memory performance after 3 weeks. Rather stick with blueberries, though, as the research on strawberries isn’t as reliable. Some say you’d have to eat about 10 pounds a day for it to have a good effect on your memory.


Sugar is a foe to humans for so many reasons. One of them is cognitive decline. Too much sugar will have a negative impact on the way your brain works, causing problems like bad memory. Additionally, it can cause issues with your hormones, which can, in turn, cause memory and concentration problems.

Try to follow a healthier diet that cuts out refined sugar and too many sugary treats and drinks, and replace those with plenty of water, fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy, lean protein sources like chicken, fish, and nuts.

Get in some caffeine

Yes, drinking too much coffee is never a good idea, but when taken in moderation, caffeine can improve memory. However, there is a trick to it. It is believed that if you take coffee AFTER creating new memories, it will help you keep them for longer. Drinking coffee or taking a caffeine pill before making new memories won’t give you the desired effects.

Exercise often

We all know how good exercise is for the body, and it’s great for the mind as well. Getting in regular exercise is great for your brain, and will help with more than just your memory. Make sure to get at least 30 minutes of exercise 3 to 4 times per week to keep your body and mind fit.

Try not to cram

It is better for your brain if you study over more than one session rather than trying to cram everything in during a ‘cram session’. When studying over time, you give your brain a better chance to process all the information and store it away. Instead of having a marathon studying session, have several sessions spread out over a period of time.

Consider a fish oil supplement

Fish oil is rich in Omega-3 acids that are important, not only for the overall health of your body but also your mind. In addition, these good oils can help to relieve stress, a known cause for bad memory and lack of concentration.

Other ideas on how to improve memory and concentration

As a student (of any kind), it is important to know how to wipe out bad study habits and achieve academic excellence. This can be looked at closely on the Get Better Grades Now website for some great advice.

There are several things you can do that will help better your memory and concentration. Of course, nothing happens overnight, but trying out these ideas as soon as possible will help you achieve better memory and concentration as quickly as possible

Get into learning something new

If you practice your memory, it becomes stronger – much like a muscle. However, your brain is picky – it needs to be challenged all the time, and the same kind of repeated routine won’t be of much use to it.

Here are a couple of ideas on what to learn to better your concentration and memory:

  • Learn a new kind of dance like the salsa or tango
  • Dive into mind games like chess or Sudoku
  • Learn a new instrument like the guitar or flute
  • Learn a foreign language
  • Try your hand at pottery or painting

Get your senses involved

It’s a known fact that smells and sounds can trigger memories, so why not use these to help you retain information? Don’t limit yourself to these two though, get your other sense involved too – get creative with it.

Be organized

More organized people have better memories. This is because your brain uses methods of organization to store and recall information. Someone who is continually organized has a mind better trained at being organized as well.

Train that brain

Your brain flourishes when it gets enough stimulation. Consider finding brain games to help with this – there are countless options available on the internet for you to explore.


Because your brain is wired only to keep what is considered essential and let everything else go, some memories, such as names and numbers, can easily be forgotten through no fault of your own.

But you can convince it to keep more memories by doing something as simple as meditation. This kind of activity helps your mind to concentrate – thereby helping you to hold on to memories better. That’s what studying is all about. Remembering the information you repeated to your brain.

As with all good things in life, improving your memory recall will take time. If you stick to meditating regularly, you can boost your memory after about 2 weeks – not a bad time frame, to be honest.

Be social

This is probably the last thing that comes to mind when thinking of how to improve memory and concentration. However, a life filled with friends has many benefits. Now, this doesn’t mean you should throw all your books out the window and attend every party you hear about. On the contrary, that’s an easy way to mess up your brain’s abilities! Instead, maintain a healthy social life in which you spend quality time with your friends and relax.

Manage your stress levels

Of course, this is always easier said than done. Managing stress often feels impossible, and it more likely feels like stress is managing you. But, there is hope. There are ways to better deal with stress and cope with it in such a way that it won’t affect your brainpower as much.

  • Take regular breaks throughout your day
  • Be realistic about your expectations
  • Say ‘no’ when you need to
  • Don’t bottle up your feelings
  • Have a good balance between relaxation and work
  • Don’t be pressured to multi-task, instead, do one thing at a time

Exercises For Improving Memory

There are also some great ways to improve your memory over time. Below are is a list of hobbies you could take up which stimulate the brain and make learning easier in the long run.

Playing strategy and problem-solving games

Chess is one of the most famous board games in the world. It is also renowned for improving the thinking capacity of its players and improving their memories. It requires cautious strategy, planning to win, and anticipating your opponent’s moves.

Word games, such as crosswords and scrabble, also help your brain remember words that improve your memory. You can also try Sudoku, which is logic-based.

Learning a new musical instrument

Don’t let how easy a pianist makes playing the piano look fool you. It takes years of practice to learn how to play any musical instrument and master it.

This has been proven as one of the most effective ways of stimulating your brain and improving its memory. Studies have shown that, a few weeks after you start learning how to play an instrument, your brain starts to create new neurons in response. Go for sophisticated musical instruments. The more intricate it is, the better.

A plus is that you could also discover new talent along the way.

Learning a foreign language

Learning a new language is not an easy task, and such an arduous task is the right choice to challenge your brain. You can enroll for an online course or purchase reading and listening materials that will teach you the language.

Playing a new sport

Sports are some of the most stimulating activities. They come with a lot of benefits, including helping you stay fit and improve your overall health. In addition to all that, they also strengthen your brain.

Therefore, take up a new sport if you are a fan. It could be anything from ball games to athletics. Swimming is also a great choice.

Drawing a map from memory

If you are a traveler or you simply like visiting new places, then this is an excellent brain exercise for you to try out.

Here is how it works:

When you return from a new place you visited, sit down and try to draw a map of it from your head. Think about all the finer details that you can try to place on the map until you have a replica of the whole area.

Trying to remember all those details helps significantly improve your brain’s recollection ability.

Taking up cooking

If you enjoy learning new cuisines or you would like to improve your cooking skills, why not use it to enhance your brain’s power?

Cooking involves a harmonious use of three primary senses: sight, smell, and taste. As you learn new recipes or take those cooking classes, your brain starts to use those senses more often and refines them.

Learning how to use chopsticks

Chopsticks have to be some of the most challenging kitchen items to use, but the Chinese and Japanese have mastered using them perfectly. If they can, you can do it, too.

Chopsticks force your brain to pay more attention as you eat, which serves as a really good exercise.

Doing math in your head

Instead of using a calculator or writing down a math problem to solve it, why not just do it within the space of your mind?

You can also spice things up by doing a light activity, such as walking, while you try to solve the question. These challenges will teach your brain to think faster and more broadly, and that will go a long way in improving your memory capacity.


Creating a mental picture of something you want to remember is a perfect brain exercise. You can practice doing this by memorizing a list of items and then trying to write down as many of them as you can remember.

The more you keep doing this, the more your brain will remember every time you picture a list in your mind.

Other than the brain exercises listed above, you can also try out the following:

  • Creating your own acronyms to help you remember information when you are in a rush
  • Telling stories – as you recount an ordeal, your brain will try to recall as much information as it can
  • Taking up a hobby or a craft, such as knitting or painting
  • Memorizing phone numbers
  • You can also visit the Get better grades now website and take a shot at the learning curriculums there that will significantly stimulate your brain’s memory

Motivating yourself when studying for a test

Motivating yourself as you study for a test is essential because it improves your overall learning experience. Below are some ideas on how you can motivate yourself.

Take breaks

Breaks not only help your mind and body relax from the study session, but they also make the learning experience more fun.

Studying for too long slows down your brain’s information absorption and retention rate. You could end up spending hours studying but gain nothing out of it.

You should have a break at least once or twice within an hour.

However, take caution in how you schedule your breaks so that you don’t spend more time on break than learning.

A break of 10-20 minutes after studying for 40 minutes is a logical structure to consider.

Have a positive approach

Self-confidence is vital in helping you focus on your studies and keep you going. Having a plan of how and when you are going to study will help you be more confident that you will be ready by the time the test starts.

Don’t focus on how little you’ve read or get lost in thoughts of how difficult the test will be. Stay alert and work toward achieving the studying milestones you’ve set.

Study with other people

Studying for a test with a group can be much more engaging than reading by yourself.

Arrange and meet with other people to discuss areas that you feel you haven’t understood well.

Study groups also provide insightful perspectives, since each person expresses their own ideas about a concept or a question.

Call for help when needed

If you don’t have time to see your friends and ask them to explain sections you don’t understand yet, you can simply call them. Alternatively, you can call your tutor and ask them for help.

The internet can also help. There are online platforms where you post a question, and the members of the online community contribute their answers.

If all of that doesn’t work, try seeing your teacher before the exam and ask them to explain it to you.

The test day is finally here, what’s next?

During the test day:

  • Ensure you’ve had plenty of rest the night before. It should be a minimum of eight hours.
  • Have a light breakfast and carry snacks for the day if there will be multiple tests.
  • Talk a walk or do something relaxing before the test.
  • Get to the venue at least 10 minutes early.
men's black long-sleeved top

Extra tips

Attend classes

Going to class and paying attention during the lesson helps you learn a lot. Try to become an active learner in school, instead of a passive one. Teachers are often known for giving hints about what a test will cover during classes.

Furthermore, if you go through what you were taught in a class within 24 hours, research shows that your brain will retain 80% of the information.

When the time comes to study for a test, you will only need minutes to refresh your memory and be ready for it. In the long run, going to classes actually saves you on the amount of time you will take to study for a test.

Write down notes

Writing notes during class helps you remember more than 50% of what was taught in that lesson. Your brain will most likely recall what it heard and saw more than what it only heard.

Record the points that your teacher writes on the board or emphasizes during the class. However, don’t get so distracted writing down the notes that you forget to listen to the teacher.

Finally, make a habit of reviewing those notes at the end of the day.

Review your syllabus

Having a clear picture of the syllabus in your mind will keep you on track in terms of when a test is coming up. Record these dates on your calendar so that you can prepare for your tests in advance.

Schedule your sessions and have a timetable that outlines when you will study each subject and stick to that timetable religiously. This is a much better approach to preparing for your tests or exams than trying to cram all the information in one night.

How to study

Final Thoughts

Studying for a test is all about preparation.  You need to come up with effective study methods that will ensure you understand everything you read and remember most of it. Studying in a conducive environment is essential, too, since it affects how you take in the information you are reading.

Remember to use the right studying techniques for the right subject, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you get stuck. With the above guideline, you have everything you need to study properly for a test. Now, all that’s left is for you to use it and prepare yourself thoroughly.

Hey, I’m Erik… a Swedish university student, marketing professional, and life-long learner. Here at BookSummaryClub I summarize my favorite non-fiction books into easily digested posts. Hope you like what you’re reading!

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