How to pass exams is a developed skill. The focus on exams and tests is one of the main flaws of the education system. But I figure you should see this as an opportunity, rather than a problem.

Nail your exams and tests…. and worry less about the rest! So it is important to prepare well how to pass exams.

Here are 5 ideas how to pass exams:

Revision notes.

Revision notes are the key on how to pass exams. They are a very short summary of everything you learnt in class. They help you to go over your whole subject in minutes… But do not re-write all your notes, only summarise them.

Revision notes are not the same as course notes. I never bothered to write full course notes. I just downloaded them from the internet or copied them from my friends. But I was fully committed to revision notes in how to pass exams.

But research is clear – you must write your own revision notes. Writing means learning. And it is even better to re-write them in ever concise fashion before the exams to make them as short as possible.  (I am talking a few pages per subject, not 100’s of pages)

Previous exams and tests

Past exams (and the answers!) are the key in how to pass exams.

If possible, do everything you can to get your hands on previous exams, tests and answer papers. Combined with your notes, these are the key to your revision for your exams. Taking pass tests will help you get insight on where you are strong and where you need to practice so they will guide your revision on how to pass exams.

Also, pay careful attention to the layout of the paper and how it is graded. This will give you a feel of where to spend your time during the exams and tests.

Start practicing on past exams very early

Therefore, if you want to have little stress, start revising early but never study too hard. You will learn over time how to manage this. But last minute crash-revising increases stress and tiredness.

And focus revision purely where you need it. Don’t always work forwards through your subject – sometimes start at the back and work forwards. Skip the areas you know well… And don’t forget to ask for help from teachers or a study-buddy if you need it.

Last minute revision

If your revision notes are up to date, and you have past papers of exams and tests, the last few hours before your exams and tests are useful to fill your short term memory with the stuff you struggle to remember a day or 3 later. Use this time wisely in part of knowing how to pass exams.

Taking the exam/test

Take a deep breath and then relax and focus completely. If you are well prepared and well-focused, the clock will slow down for you. You should have your stuff ready, know where the exam is and arrive early to ensure you don’t lose your focus. This is the moment to peak…

Do not get overtired

Do not exhaust yourself in your revisions. You need to peek on the exam day and not 3 weeks before that. So set yourself a reasonable number of hours per day to revise and do not exceed it. And make sure you give yourself some days off as well. 

Never  take performance enhancers.

They may leave you deranged and unable to perform. If you are ready, you don’t need them and they may screw you up. If you are not ready, they won’t help you and may still screw you up.


And after the exams….

Stop beating yourself up about mistakes.  It is rarely as bad as it seems. But for sure take time to learn from any mistakes when you get your papers back. If necessary, update revision notes. And don’t forget to give yourself a few days rest!!

Do you have any good tips you can share with us?

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