How to study for science tests

Last Updated on August 25, 2023

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How to study for science tests

We promise your teacher isn’t out to get you. As unpleasant as taking a test can often be, it actually does more than just show your teacher what you know: it can actually help you learn.

Studies have shown that students who are tested regularly actually learn more content and retain it longer than students who have not been tested. Great news for final exams. Frequent testing has even been shown to help decrease test anxiety.

Not sure how to study for a test? Follow these study tips to make your best grade!

How to study for a test

1. Get informed

Don’t walk into your test unprepared for what you will face. Before you start studying, find out:

  • textbook chapters and topics the test will cover
  • test format

Will there be multiple-choice questions or short answers? Will you write an in-class essay? The goals and layout of the test will determine how you tackle learning the material. 

2. Think like your teacher

Your homeworks assignments, quizzes, handouts, daily notes, and classwork are all indicators of what your teacher thinks is important about the information and what might appear on the test.

3. Make your own study aids

When it comes to learning, a 2013 study showed that practice tests work BETTER than simply highlighting or re-reading your notes. So, turn your notes into flashcards or use a flashcard app for memorizing Spanish vocab. Ask your friends to quiz you or write your own practice test.

4. Practice for the inevitable

Outline essays ahead of time. For math tests, do plenty of practice problems similar to ones that you KNOW will appear. Make a list of questions that you think might show up on the test (and then make sure you can answer them!).

Read More: 10 Ways to Overcome Test Anxiety

5. Study every day

If you have a test in a week, studying a little each day will help you identify tough concepts or weak areas in your knowledge in advance. Can’t figure out factoring? Log on to Homework Help and get your questions answered.

6. Cut out the distractions

Studying for a test

Distractions make it difficult to pay attention to what you’re doing, which in turn makes it harder to commit facts to memory. Give yourself a leg up by turning off the notifications on your phone, temporarily blocking your favorite websites, or sticking to instrumental music while you study (so you’re not tempted to sing along!). Taking a break every 45 minutes or so will also help you stay focused.

7. Divide big concepts from smaller details

If you’re studying a big topic—like the Civil War for history or cellular processes for biology—try breaking the material you need to study into chunks. Study one battle at a time or one chapter section at a time—and then quiz yourself. Ask yourself questions about what you’ve just studied, and even write your answers down.

8. Don’t neglect the “easy” stuff

Even if you’ve been acing a certain subject or concept all year and think the test will be a breeze, you should still give it a review before the big day. You don’t want to lose points for careless errors or forget to memorize a key geometry formula.

9. Don’t skip school

Missing classes automatically puts you at a disadvantage. Make sure you go to class (especially during the week leading up to the test) and attend any review sessions your teacher holds. Did you have to miss an important class? You can always ask your teacher or one of our tutors for help catching up.

10. Review the day of the test

Before you take the test, give yourself time for a quick review. Shuffle through those flashcards a couple of times or re-read your chapter outline. This will ensure the material is fresh in your mind.

how to study for science exam in one day

So you’ve left all your exam revision to the last minute? Don’t worry – it’s a scenario that can creep up on the best of us, and we’re here to help!stressed woman next to A+ papers

Credit: Fotohunt (background), Photo Veterok (left), Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley (right) – Shutterstock

Whether it’s down to extreme procrastination, a killer timetable or genuinely unforeseen circumstances, you probably want to learn how to revise effectively and quickly because you’ve realised your exam is tomorrow and you’re completely unprepared.

While we wouldn’t condone leaving all your revision until the final day, we’re here to reassure you that all is not lost! It’s possible to revise for an exam in a day.This plan partly relies on the strength of your lecture notes and attendance throughout the course. Not confident in your work so far? For future reference, here’s how to take better lecture notes!

18 last-minute exam revision tips

These are our top tips for studying the day before an exam:

  1. Wake up earlyjoey and ross sleeping friendsCredit: Warner Bros.When you’ve only got one day to deal with the job in hand, you need to make the most of it.You don’t want to get up at stupid-o-clock and burn out too early, but you should set yourself an alarm for a sensible time and aim to start work at around 9am.After all, you can nap all you want after the exam!
  2. Choose the right place to workAs much as we wish it weren’t true, you really won’t get much done from your bed. We’d love to say otherwise, it’s just a fact.You’ll be a whole lot more productive in an environment that you associate with working, so set yourself up at your desk or haul yourself down to the library.
  3. Go to the library preparedshocked cat in a suitcaseThink of every possibility – you might have only used those erasable highlighters once, but if you leave them, you’ll probably need them.When the going gets tough later on, you don’t want to be wasting time searching for books or notes, or giving yourself an excuse to stop working because you don’t have everything you need.It might be a bit late in the game for this, but if you’re a bit of a scatterbrain, check out our seven easy steps to becoming more organised.
  4. Create a plan before you startDon’t go into a blind revision frenzy – you may only have one day, but you’ll get much more done if you break it up and work out exactly what you need to know rather than just cram in any old info.Spend half an hour working out what topics you need to cover and allotting chunks of time for each bit. It might seem like a waste of valuable revision time, but trust us – it’ll save you much more time in the long run.Check out our guide to writing an essay in a day for an insight into how easy it is to break down a massive task into something far more achievable.
  5. Refrain from panickingwill inbetweeners stressed and panicking over revisionCredit: Bwark ProductionsAlthough the exam is staring you straight in the face with all its nastiness, giving in to a sense of impending doom won’t help you one bit.You still have plenty of time to digest information and come out of the other side smiling, and a positive can-do attitude will go a long way!And don’t worry if you’re feeling the pressure – it’s perfectly natural! Just know that it’s possible to beat the exam stress with these six great tips.
  6. Use lecture slides and past papersLecture slides and past papers are both great ways to work out what’s likely to come up in the exam, so make use of them.Once you’ve worked out what’s probably going to come up, head to the textbooks to jot down key notes on each area. Look out for chapter summaries and key information boxes for a more succinct read.You can also use past papers to test your knowledge – you don’t have to actually do any essay questions, but you can write quick plans of how you’d approach them.
  7. Study without technology and social mediamobile phone with red no sign over itAs tough as it may seem, opting for a day without your phone, laptop and tablet will really help you to study for your exam.Not only will you be able to focus more on the task at hand, but writing things down (as opposed to typing) helps your brain to process the information better.And if you need lecture notes, print them off. This will also keep you away from the procrastination devil that is social media.Don’t think you can manage it? The Hold app rewards you with free popcorn, Costa coffees and loads more just for avoiding your phone!
  8. Re-read your lecture notes and highlight This is where your hard work earlier in the year will hopefully pay off, as you can now consolidate whatever was on your lecture slides or in the textbooks.As an added bonus, cues you’ve jotted down in lectures should hopefully trigger more info from the depths of your brain.You don’t have a huge amount of time on your hands (after all, this is a guide on how to revise quickly), so if something isn’t jogging your memory, it may be worth coming back to it if you have any spare time later on.
  9. Condense your notesmany textbooksStreamline each topic down to one page of notes using your lecture slides, previous notes and textbooks.How you revise depends on your degree, but for ‘bookish’ subjects ensure you’ve learned key concepts, examples and evaluations, along with at least one conflicting argument.Don’t waste time copying out paragraphs – this is laborious, time-consuming and totally unnecessary. Simply reading through some selective notes should act as a memory trigger when you read through them on the morning of your exam.
  10. Eat healthy brain foodAs tempting as it might be to stock up on Red Bull and Haribo and go hell for leather, this is never a good idea.Sugar and caffeine will give you a short-term energy boost, but after a few hours (if not sooner) you’ll crash in a big way – despite still having a load more revision to do.Instead, opt for some healthy, energy-boosting snacks like bananas or porridge. Our guide to the best brain fuel foods has all your best options, including (dark) chocolate!
  11. Use memory tricksNeville Longbottom holding remembrallCredit: Warner BrosSometimes, sitting there and reading the lecture slides just isn’t enough. Instead, you might need to turn to some more… unusual ways of making things stick.Now, we’re not suggesting that you turn your notes into a full-blown musical to help you revise, but rhymesfunny anecdotes and mnemonics (e.g. ‘Never Eat Shredded Wheat’ for reciting the clockwise order of North, East, South and West) will help you to remember key facts and phrases.It might feel a little bit like primary school, but if it helps you remember, who cares? Don’t work hard, work smart (… ok, work hard too).
  12. Memorise some important names and datesA lot of university subjects will require you to know some key authors or critics and what their key arguments were. On top of that, you may even be asked to include some top quotes and the years they were uttered.Truth be told, you can usually be a few years off with the year (or employ some clever terms like “Smith commented in the early 19th century” rather than using an exact year), but you will need to get their names correct.Pick a few quotes for each topic and write them down on another single page of notes so you can keep going over them.Go for a mix of well-known and more obscure quotes. Aside from cheering them up having spared them from reading the same quotes in every essay, throwing in something your lecturer hasn’t read before makes it seem like you’ve done a lot of in-depth research.
  13. Take breaks between each topicross friends wearing frankie say relax t-shirtCredit: Warner BrosAs weird as it sounds, learning how to revise quickly actually involves learning to take a break.You need to rest your eyes and your brain, as not only will this help you process what you’ve just read, but it’ll also give you a moment to recharge and avoid burning out.When taking a break, it’s a good opportunity to grab a quick bite to eat and, if you’re experiencing withdrawal symptoms, quickly take a look at Twitter. And we mean quickly.Post a mandatory “I hate revision can’t wait until it’s all over xoxo” tweet, laugh at some student memes and then return to your work.Oh, and it’s worth setting a timer to let you know when to get back to work, as it can be easy to get carried away.
  14. Review each topicWhen you return from each break, review the topic you’ve just learned to ensure you understand everything.If there’s something important that you can’t get your head around, try using a different source to explain it – sometimes our brains process things better when explained from a different angle.When you’re satisfied that you understand the main points and aren’t just kidding yourself, go on to your next topic.
  15. Revise the next topicStudent readingApply the previous steps to every topic until you have everything covered. Learning to revise quickly is really just a simple process of writing, condensing, taking a break, reviewing and then moving onto the next topic. Easy peasy.Aim to have all your material covered by 10pm at the very latest – you need to sleep! You can then spend a few hours absorbing the information from your simple one-page flashcards.
  16. Prepare yourself for the examGet ready and prepare your bag for the exam the night before – calculator, spare pens, student card, whatever else you need. Even set out what you’re going to wear the next day so you’re 100% ready.This is really important as it can save you a lot of stress on the morning of the exam. And, of course, it’ll also give you an extra 10 minutes in bed in the morning – especially useful given that tip 18 involves an early start…
  17. Sleep wellpam sleeping on jim's shoulder the officeCredit: NBCNo matter how stressed you feel, make sure to get some good quality shut-eye for at least six hours (ideally eight or more, though).If you’re having trouble sleeping, remind yourself that, at this point, sleep is more important than endlessly cramming. Exhaustion won’t help you perform and your brain needs time to process all the things you’ve been revising the day before.
  18. Wake up earlier than usual Make sure you get up a little earlier than you need to in order to go over your notes.And before you enter the exam room, avoid talking to other people about what you’ve studied – it’ll undo all of the work you’ve been doing to manage your exam stress as you’ll just feel you’ve done less than everyone else, or missed out some topics.At the end of the day, there’s nothing more you can do at this point – if you’ve forgotten to revise something, you can’t do anything about that now. It’s better to go in full of confidence and just do your best.It’s also worth reading the whole paper before answering any questions – that way your brain has time to subconsciously work on the next answers.

And that’s it, you’re done! Once again, we really should stress that you shouldn’t use this method as your first choice. Emergency back-up only!


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