Taking tests is hard enough without having to worry about those always difficult written answers. Instructors and professors are looking for specific information conveyed in a clear way. For example, each part of the answer needs to be separated according to paragraphs. Per paragraph, the main sentence needs to be supported by an explanation or example. However, these tests tend to be timed and exposure to a particular literary source may not occur ahead of time. It’s enough to rattle anyone’s brain. Luckily, there are ways to prepare for such an exam. Consider these tips as you study.

End of Year Exams: How to Feel More Prepared on Written Answers

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Specifics

Don’t become weighed down by every detail. Focus on what’s really important. If it’s for a science test, remember information using mnemonic devices. Convey this information within a broader context—depending upon what was requested. For a literary source, keep notes of important aspects and anything else that stands out in the form of an outline. Like on a US History AP exam, you may not remember every document, but use a guide to review which are most important and at least get the titles down. Written answers are generally limited to 40 minutes of time.

Practice

Practice doing written answers at home. For example, choose a passage that hasn’t been read before. Allow for 40 minutes, or however much time will be needed during the actual exam, on a timer. However, you should place the timer out of sight so it doesn’t serve as a distraction. Write down what’s needed and within the allotted time. Go off to do something else after finishing the exam. When your mind is fresh again, reread the passage, and read what was written. Compare the two to gauge whether something was missed from the reading. This will show whether important aspects were skipped.

Don’t Stress

This sounds easier in theory than in practice, but it does make a huge difference. Study what is needed a few days to a week ahead of time. Then allow your mind to take a breather. Come back to this information later

End of Year Exams: How to Feel More Prepared on Written Answers

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on—between half a day, to a full day and study again. Keep flashcards of whatever information is most forgotten and review this over and over during your studies. Take another breather, and when you’re ready, take a practice test of the information to see what was retained.

Chances are, most the information is recalled. If it isn’t, go back over the previous step. Half a day before the time to take the exam, put all study materials away. Do something fun, eat well, drink plenty of water, and get a good night’s rest. The mind will be stress-free and ready to recall all of the information needed.

Written answers seem hard because of the many perceived unknowns. However,approach them with these three tips to remove the unknowns, and they won’t seem so difficult after all.

Brains for Education: How to Afford School on a BudgetBrooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her timehiking, biking and gardening. For more information about studying correctly visit Study APe or contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.”