It’s not the end of the world… yet.

Rarely, no matter how hard you study, you cannot seem to reach that passing grade. In most cases, it is not the end of the world and there is plenty of time to redeem yourself. Now take a breath. In order to make sure that you pass the next test and every single test after, you have to identify what went wrong.

Assuming the answer before reading the question.

Don’t get me wrong, spending all week knowing this big exam is coming up can be stressful even if you study. At the moment you sit down to start that test and see nothing but a big blank space in your mind, it is very natural to have a feeling of panic. Oftentimes, you may read part of a question and assume you already know what it is asking – this can lead to trouble! When you sit down, read the question fully (and then read it again, and again, and again). You will be much more successful in understanding exactly what is being asked. Reading a question is one thing, but knowing the question and its context is how you will succeed.

You are not studying in a way that works for you.

Growing up in any form of education often offers us a narrow form of studying, which mostly ends up being writing your notes, re-reading them, or reading chapters over and over again. Very few people taking tests will succeed with only this method and it is a wise idea to explore options and methods of studying – what works for your classmate may not work as well for you! Education aids like flashcards, blind quizzes, videos, dictating your notes and listening back will provide you with many other avenues to digest information in a meaningful way.

You are studying excessively without taking care of yourself.

Of course, that test is important, but your mental and physical health takes priority. It’s okay to study for long periods of time but not taking a minute to breathe and clear your head will not help you in the long run. Focusing for hours without a break will not allow you to retain information as well and all that hard work can be done in more effective ways. Just like taking a break to go outside between binging episodes of Friends, go on a walk with your dog before continuing that study session.

You are trying to remember, not trying to know.

The biggest mistake I personally made while trying to study for an exam, is trying to remember the information and not understand it. “Is that not the same thing?” you might be saying to yourself. In short, no. A good example of this is the phrase “the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell”. We all know that the mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, but making the connections to “how and why” this is the case will bring much more meaning to the concept overall. How does it interact with the rest of the cell? Taking the time to understand the topic at question and how it all relates will help you apply that knowledge in practice and have a lot more confidence in your studies.