What is the easiest way to prepare for exams?

“Studying is the easiest way to prepare for exams.”

“Clear your schedule, learn the material, and then review it all at the last minute. Or so I’ve heard. It has worked for me so far.”

A few students in the library nodded their heads in agreement while others shook theirs.

One student spoke up. “Studying is important but not if you’re just going to forget it all after you’re done. You need to revise and study again.”

“Yes!” A few students exclaimed at the same time, pointing at their friend. “I revised for about a week straight before my last exam but I feel like I didn’t retain most of its content anymore.”

“Revising can be helpful but it can also lead to burn out. You need a break every once in a while.”

There was silence for a moment as most students thought about what they had just heard.

“So what’s the easiest way to prepare for exams?” one student asked, breaking the silence and getting everyone’s attention. “We’ve already discussed and thought about our ways to study for exams but what’s the easiest?”

There was silence for another moment.

“I think the answer is simple,” an older student spoke up, earning everyone’s attention. “You need to start studying early.”

“What do you mean by that?” a few students asked at the same time, causing the older student to chuckle.

“It means you should start studying at least a month before the exam,” he explained, “that way you have plenty of time to revise and re-study.”

At this comment, some students nodded while others still looked skeptical.

“But if I start studying that early,” one student spoke up, looking like he had just found a fatal flaw in the older student’s plan. “Don’t I start studying too early which causes me to lose focus?”

“Maybe,” the older student spoke up again, not sounding too confident. “But you should use that time to familiarize yourself with everything instead of studying it all at one go.”

By this point, most students were nodding.

“I think they call it ‘active recall’ or something like that,” a student suggested, making everyone turn to look at her. She shrugged and rubbed the back of her head nervously as she explained, “It’s where you try to re-produce information from memory instead of just reading what’s on the page. Like when people try to remember phone numbers.”

At this comment, everyone started murmuring in agreement while nodding their heads.

“I think the easiest way to prepare for exams would be to do all your revision well before the exam date. And if you still feel like you need more review time, use that last minute cramming method that we all dread.”

At this comment, the room erupted into laughter as students started leaving the library. The friends who were still in the library chuckled and turned to leave as well. The older student walked up to his friend and smiled at him before patting him on the shoulder and walking out of the library with his friend.

“Hey, don’t worry about it,” the older student said reassuringly. “Studying is all right but too much of anything isn’t good for you.”

“Thanks, I appreciate that,” his friend replied gratefully. “I think I’ll take your advice and start getting into that habit early; otherwise it’s just cramming at the last minute which I can’t stand.”

“Exactly. But don’t forget to crack open the books every now and again for review, though. And make sure that you’re actually revising what’s on the pages instead of just passively memorizing it.”

At this comment, his friend nodded his head in agreement as they walked out of the library.

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