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10 Wrong Techniques Students Use When Preparing for Exams

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Many students get into the exam room without preparing adequately for the exam, something that leads to poor grades and massive retakes. Every student must understand that working hard is not the only recipe for top grades. Many simple facts accompany the word work, such as following all the instructions and managing time well. This article will look at the top 10 misguided techniques students use when preparing for exams.

Not going through the previous test.

No student wants to revisit a test that gave them a disappointing result. After a disappointing test, every student tries to forget about it as much as possible and focus on the coming one. However, this is a big mistake. Your previous test is the best tool for learning. It helps you better understand your course and is also the perfect tool to prepare for the next exam or test. This is because you can use it to analyze the areas where you made mistakes, see whether you misread the questions, did not follow instructions, and took too much time on questions you should not have.

Reviewing notes

Re-reading your notes several times helps you trigger your understanding of the subject matter. It helps you understand the tough terms in that course because you are able to ask yourself questions such as;

  • How is this connected to this topic?
  • What does this mean?
  • Is this important?
  • How does this work?

Preparing for your exam alone

Another misguided technique students use when preparing for their exams is studying alone. Studying with your coursemates helps you understand things better since you are in a position to ask questions. Note that a shared human experience is always important, even if you are studying with people taking different courses. When you and your classmates solve problems together and look for solutions, you develop vital critical skills that you can apply even in the job market. Therefore, when preparing for your exams, avoid studying alone. Get into a group with a common purpose as you, and you will have an easier time revising.


Cramming is another very poor technique students use when preparing for exams. When you cram, the information you have crammed is stored in the short-term memory. This means that even if it helps you pass that particular paper, it won't help you much because it will be erased from your memory, and therefore you may not be able to solve the complex problem in that course that requires critical thinking. If a similar test is to be done, you will require to cram again. Therefore, instead of cramming to get over one exam, read to understand so that the details of what you read can be useful to you even in the future.

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Remember that the main reason for studying is to understand concepts and ideas. Many students opt for memorizing when it comes to terms and lists. It is important to remember that your professor does not expect you to write terms in the exam words written in the book. They expect you to show understanding by being able to explain things in your own words. That is why students are asked to read and understand. Just like cramming, it’s easy to forget memorized terms. However, when you understand something, you can even apply it years after reading it.

Relying on resources in areas you don’t understand

You must understand that doing homework and an exam are two different things. When doing your homework, you can always check different resources in areas you don’t understand. However, that will not happen during exams. It is, therefore, important to prepare for homework just like you would prepare for an exam. Try to answer all the questions without going through different resources to get answers. This way, you will have an easy time handing in your exams since you have practiced the many tasks you have handled in class. When you are stuck with a task, your first reaction should not always be looking for resources. Try to analyze why your thinking got you where you are and learn from it. Note that you will never be allowed to carry reference materials in an exam room.

Reviewing all your notes rather than the things that require your attention

Once you understand a concept, you should not spend all your time reviewing it. Reviewing a concept you already understand is a waste of time. Instead, you should spend more time dealing with areas that are not clear to you. Remember that you do not know the specific areas where the examiner will team, so you are expected to understand an entire topic fully. Therefore, focus more on the subtopics you do not understand since you have a limited time preparing for the exam.

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Getting little or no sleep

Many students tend to spend all the last days before the exam rushing over all the notes and not taking time to rest or sleep. Not sleeping, especially the night before your exams, can affect your psychology, and you will not be able to think clearly. Most students think that squeezing their sleeping time will help in exam preparation, but it works on the contrary. Going into an exam too tired creates a negative experience and questions you would have easily answered when fresh you struggle to get the right answers. It is, therefore, important to ensure that you get enough sleep before your exams. You should get into an exam room fresh and ready for what is ahead.

Repeating the same thing that did not work in the previous exam

You should avoid repeating the mistakes that did not work in the previous exams. Always consider changing your approach if you want to get different results. Many students try to work hard trying to improve their results but still fail. Therefore, if you get undesirable grades in your exams, before spending more time on your books, reflect on what you did wrong on the previous exams and solve it. Having reflected on what you did wrong, you will have an easier time studying for your next exam because you know what to correct and where to improve.

Doing exams without checking concepts you did not understand in the previous exam.

This happens when you simply check into a previous test you had performed poorly and did not take the initiative to understand the concepts you did not get right then. Meeting a celebrity on the street who is familiar to you does not mean you know everything about them. Therefore, if things are unclear to you, ensure that you understand them before entering the exam room.


Students struggle to score top grades in their exams because of simple mistakes that they can do away with. We have highlighted all the misguided techniques students use and possible solutions to each. Every student must know that preparing for an exam takes more than reading notes. You must be able to manage your time well and be prepared mentally.

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