How do I know when I’m ready?

It’s a question that gets asked all the time. When preparing for a test, how do I know when I am ready for the test I am studying for? It’s a difficult question because there is not a point or indicator that will tell a student to stop. The student has to figure this out on their own. 

Some things that get in the way are ego and overconfidence. Too many students are eager to stop studying and convince themselves that they are ready and that they are going to ace this test. Or, they feel like the test is so easy that they stop studying. In both of these examples, students persuade themselves that it is time to stop.

The key is for students to first define the study process: what they are going to study, how much time do they need, what strategies they’re going to use, and where they’re going to study. Students need to outline these steps and have a broad understanding of how they will prepare for a test.

Then comes the final question, how can I define when I am ready? Students should create a specific and measurable outcome. This can vary from class to class so let’s try out a few examples. Let’s say a student has a Psychology Midterm. These tests are usually multiple choice and can include a few hundred terms students need to learn. Perhaps a student will define being ready as going through notecards 3 times straight without a single miss. Or maybe they want to be able to list every term and the meaning with zero prompts—no notecards, study guides, or materials. If a student has a History test, maybe they define being ready as being able to answer every question from the chapter summary questions in the textbook. For a Calculus test, it might be getting 100% of the practice problems correct in a given sitting.

By creating a specific and measurable task, a student will be able to set their finish line. Then, the student can adjust their study plans if they need to. It will give the student a clear ending point and, it should increase their exam scores.

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