Step one: Start planning--now
Giving yourself a few weeks instead of a few hours to get your act together is the single best thing you can do to ensure good grades come exam season. Three weeks before your tests, write down the dates (and times) of all your big tests on a calendar at home and in your homework planner. Then, go through your binders, folders and notebooks, subject by subjects, to see what materials you have and what you're missing. Never got the answers to a quiz you bombed? Missing a day of notes 'cause you were out sick? Gather those items now, not the day before your test.
Step two: Target your rough spots
Two weeks before the tests, it's time to go back through old homework sheets, quizzes, tests and essays. Retake the problems you missed and write down the areas you had trouble with. If you're still sticky, it's time to chat with your teacher after class. Ask her if you can meet during a free period or before or after school for a study session, or if there are any older students she could recommend to tutor you.
Step three: Study right, your way
We all learn in different ways. Some sweeties are visual learners (they do best with demonstrations, videos and pictures), others are auditory learners (they do best when they hear the information) and still others are kinesthetic learners (they do best with hands-on activities and writing things down). If you don't know which works best for you, try a combination of two or three, like rewriting your notes and drawing pictures to go with them, or taking turns to explain theories out loud to your classmates.
Step four: Go piece by piece
When you look at the hundreds of pages you've covered in history, it can be daunting to realize that you're being tested on all of it, all at once. Avoid a panic attack by breaking the material up into manageable sections--by chapter or unit, subject, time period, anything. Use your homework planner to help you space out your studying. Working on one section each day will keep things manageable...and prevent ya from going crazy.
Step five: Get a good night's sleep
Cramming the night before a test isn't gonna do much for your grades, unfortunately. Instead, eat a good dinner, relax and go to bed early. Getting eight hours of solid sleep will keep your brain in tip-top shape, letting you quickly recall the information you've reviewed over the last few weeks as you take your test. So chill out, chica! Get those number-two pencils sharpened and your alarm set--your work here is done.
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Got midterms on the brain? Put the freak-outs on pause and your thinking cap on. Ready? OK! We're showing you how to ace those crazy big tests on the horizon without going into hyperdrive. Or, you know, cramming the night before. 'Cause really, no one wants to pull an all-nighter.