PREPARING FOR EXAMS: Find the best way to succeed at your exams

To study effectively, try this system:

Atmosphere – Create a positive atmosphere by getting into an optimistic frame of mind and setting yourself up in a place where you will not be disturbed.

Comprehension – Try to visualize the information. Explain and define the concepts aloud. Ask for help when you are not sure what you should do.

Repetition – Make notes about your readings in your own words.

Assimilation – Take short breaks (we recommend studying for 45 minutes, then taking a 15-minute break). After your break, quickly review what you studied earlier.

Anticipation – Try to anticipate what might be asked on the exam and make a list of possible questions.

Revision – Re-read your notes and ask someone to quiz you to make sure you know the material.

There are different ways to prepare for exams depending on the type of exam. It is important to keep the type of exam in mind to increase your chances of success. Here are some tips for preparing for different types of exams:

  1. Multiple Choice (MC)

     - This type of exam requires memorization.

     - It is important to know definitions, dates and key words.

     - Try this method for answering MC questions:

               - Hide the answers while you read the question

               - Answer from memory and write down your response.

               - Read the list of answers.

               - Find the one that best matches your answer.

  1. Short-answer questions

     - The subject is usually very specific, and you are told how to respond.

     - Do not write more than necessary because you might get off track and lose marks.

     - Concentrate on the technical terms that make up definitions.

     - Set a time limit for each question.

     - Read the question and look for key words.

     Try to be brief and concise.

  1. Essay questions

     - This kind of question requires plenty of preparation and a methodical approach because the subject is usually very broad and your answer must be coherent.

     - Study overall concepts, recurring themes and links between theoretical elements.

     - At the exam, pay attention to the verbs that are used in the instructions. To know the key verbs commonly used in essay-type exam questions, click here.

     - Before you start writing, prepare a clear outline to avoid repetition.

     - After writing your essay, check your spelling, grammar, syntax and vocabulary. These things are very important!


 “Effective Study Habits.’’ Study Guides and Strategies. <>

 Bégin, Christian. Devenir efficace dans ses études. Beauchemin, 1992.

Stop by the Mentoring Center (Simard Hall, room 125B). We can help you review before your exams and give you tips to help you better prepare for them.

You can also sign up for one of our free workshops.


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