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How to Study Before the Exam: Tips for Students

Creating a study-plan is very important when embarking on any learning journey, but is especially helpful when it comes to language learning. Regardless of the amount of time you are able to devote to daily language learning, create a personalized study plan that best fits your schedule. This will help you to map out your goals, visualize your accomplishments, and overall keep you on task and accountable as you approach your test date. While making a strong study plan that ranges more than a few days is viewed as the best practice for tests, sometimes life happens and now you need to fit seven days of concentration into a couple of days, or even only one evening! No matter your schedule you can always make time for review and prep - here are some study plan timelines and suggestions that can help you get started!

“The Overall Study Plan”

Step 1: Identify which topics you will need to know for the test. Create a vocabulary list, ask yourself what grammar concepts will be included, and if there are any cultural references you need to review. Once you’ve thought about the content, make a list of all topics and material that need to be reviewed before the upcoming test.

Step 2: Schedule specific days and times to review the things you mapped out. Maybe the first day is dedicated to vocabulary, the text, grammar, and so on. Creating study intentions for each day will help you to stay on track.

Step 3: Now it’s time to go further, create a detailed plan of action for each review session. To avoid wasting time, create a pattern for each time you sit down. Throughout this review process, take notes of what you need to review further.

Step 4: Follow through with your plan! If you stick to it, you should be left feeling comfortable with the material and ready to complete a final overall review!

“The 5-Day Plan”

Ideally, studying should start at least five days in advance of the exam to allow students an ample amount of time to go over course concepts and materials, and reach out to their instructor or peers if they find they have any questions. The Academic Success Center, Texas A&M University outlines the 5-day study plan in her text and suggests how students could organize their study sessions:

Organize specific blocks of time on days 1, 2, 3, and 4 for review sessions. Day 1 should be your planning day as we discussed previously. Days 2, 3, and 4 are your chance to dive deeper into the specific subject matter chosen for that day. Continue to take notes and summarize as you go through these days. On day 5, dedicate all of your study time to reviewing your summary notes. Mark the study/review days and times on your calendar or your weekly schedule. Coordinate these times with other students if you are going to review with a study partner or study group.

“The 3-Day Plan”

Like the 5-day plan, the 3-day plan has the benefit of giving the student time to fully go over course materials and lecture notes, and also gives them just enough time to reach out to their instructor or peers with questions.

Students should still create a schedule like the one for the 5-day plan, but rather than try to block out longer periods of time for studying and set themselves up for information overload, students should block out multiple shorter blocks of time and take regular breaks to help maintain focus.

“The 1-Day Plan”

Sometimes life happens, and even though you may have intended to start studying days in advance, many students find themselves in the quandary of having to cram for an exam during finals week. Unfortunately, studying for long sessions or pulling an all-nighter usually isn’t an effective strategy for memory retention, but there are four steps students can take to improve their odds:

Step 1: Follow steps as you would for a 5-day plan, by organizing materials, identifying topics, and creating a schedule—making sure to include time for breaks.

Step 2: Study—review materials, create summary notes for difficult concepts, and take regular breaks. If students have other classes or activities, saving summary or lecture notes to their smartphone or using apps like study apps are great strategies for studying on the go.

Step 3: Get some sleep! Many students think pulling an all-nighter will help them perform better, but a lack of sleep impedes working memory function and attentiveness—which won’t help at all on exam day.

Main Takeaways

A study plan is a great way to keep you on track with your learning and hold yourself accountable. Managing time can be difficult when you’re straddling school, work, other activities, family, and social responsibilities.

Making a study plan forces you to be aware of how you dedicate your time and how to set yourself up for success, especially without depending on classmates or teachers. And as part of setting yourself up for success, breaks, food, exercise, and sleep are an integral part of the picture!

Here at Rola, we have built this philosophy into our teaching method for world languages. We formed our method with the needs of our adult students in mind; designed to increase retention and confidence and make the most of practice time (we know many of our students are very motivated but also very busy!). All of our classes include three parts - General Conversation/Fluency, Verb Drills/Grammar, and Vocabulary Building/Repetition, which are reinforced through cyclical review and reinforcement throughout the 6-week or 8-week session. Stay tuned to our social media for our upcoming graphic to share the Rola 7-day study plan for language-learning success!

Our philosophy, the Rola Method, is a progressive teaching method that promotes fluency through repetition. We formed our method with the needs of our adult students in mind; designed to increase retention and confidence and make the most of practice time (we know many of our students are very motivated but also very busy!). All of our classes and lessons include three parts - General Conversation/Fluency, Verb Drills/Grammar, and Vocabulary Building/Repetition.

Our Picks:

Flashcards are a great study tool to drill vocabulary by yourself or with a partner. For example, we recommend Tuttle Chinese for Kids Flash Cards Kit Vol 1 for beginner Chinese students. Check out these and tons of other resources in our Language Learner Gift Guide!

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1798 Massachusetts Ave. #2, Cambridge, MA, USA 02140

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