The Seven-Day Test Prep Plan

One of the most important steps in effective test prep is creating a plan. In general, plan to start about 7-10 days in advance to make sure you maximize your study time. Remember, it is better to space your studying out over a period of days rather than clustering your studying just before the exam. Ten hours of studying over 5 days is better than 10 hours of studying over 2 days! Organize your material by concepts, planning to start with the most difficult material first. This gives you the most time to seek out support well before the exam. Use the guidelines below and the linked chart to create your plan. Use your resources and remember to use active study techniques! You got this. 

7 days before the exam: Overview of all of the material

  • Identify the difficult areas that are giving you problems
  • Create a to-do list and fill out Seven-Day Test Prep Chart
  • Decide which study tools you will create to organize your materials:
    • flash cards
    • compare/contrast cards
    • concept maps
    • summary sheets
    • diagrams
    • outlines
    • timelines
    • mnemonic device

6-4 days before test: Review content and self-test, begin with difficult areas

  • Reviewing strategies
    • rework homework and quiz questions
    • self-test on chapter and lecture notes
    • answer chapter or study-guide questions
    • attend a review session
    • take turns testing a study partner
    • explain concepts in your own words from memory
    • formulate deep thinking questions, answer aloud
    • predict and answer possible exam questions
    • teach someone else concepts
  • For essay exams
    • Come up with ten possible essay questions using your notes and texts
    • Outline a brief answer to each
    • Reduce the outlined answer to key words that you can remember. Use acronyms or mnemonic devices to remember these key words
    • Even if these questions do not appear, you will have organized the course content in your mind.

3-2 days before test: Study all material thoroughly. Work with others to work-through material and ask possible exam questions.

  • Utilize outside resources
    • Tutoring
    • Review sessions
    • Study groups/partners

1 day before the test: review briefly and get a good night’s sleep. You have studied the material three times in the past seven days. Sleep will help you recall and use what you have learned.

Remember to use active study strategies!

Active Studying

Passive Studying

  •  Explain material in your own words, from memory
  •  Develop a concept map or flow chart
  •  Answer practice questions
  •  Relate theories to made-up stories or real life, personal examples
  • Look at charts and diagrams and explain them in your own words
  • Answer Higher Order Thinking Questions- Why? How? What if?
  •  Flashcards for memorization
  •  Rewriting notes
  •  Rereading chapter summaries
  •  Looking over chapter outlines
  •  Rereading textbook
  •  Reviewing highlighted material from your textbook


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