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How to Study for a Promotional Exam

So…you’ve decided to test for promotion. Automatically you envision your days in high school trying to learn mind-numbing material that you hoped to never see or ever use. But you want the promotion and you believe that you would do a good job at the next level so you soldier on—probably using the same study methods you used years ago. If they worked back then, perhaps they will work now. If not, you may need to read this short article on how to study for a multiple choice exam. Studying for a multiple choice exam is a skill that you can learn, hone, and perfect, as is taking and passing a multiple choice exam. Before you show up to test day unprepared, read the steps to study for a multiple choice exam below and up your odds of getting the score you want.

Step #1: Start Studying the First Day the Test Date is Posted

That sounds crazy, but it's true. Your exam prep starts on the first day. Do not rely on cramming! Despite the caffeine infused all-nighters, cramming is not a good way to learn test material.

Nothing beats time and repetition when it comes to learning. The best way to learn anything is to read and reread the materials, take careful notes while you read, and learn as you go. Then, when it's a multiple choice test day, you will just be reviewing the information instead of learning it all for the first time.

Step #2: Create a Study Schedule

I get it. You're really busy. That's why it's even more important for you to create a study schedule for days ahead of test time. You can figure out where you have a few extra hours in the coming weeks prior to your test, rather than cramming minutes before. To study for a multiple choice exam, start weeks ahead if possible, studying in small increments until you get to test day.

Step #3: Space it Out

A proven learning technique called “spaced repetition” involves breaking up information into small chunks and reviewing them consistently over a long period of time. So don’t try to memorize everything in one sitting—instead learn a chapter or a few pages every day and review each segment before starting anything new.

Step #3: Organize Everything from the Unit or Chapter

You know ahead of time, which sources you will be tested over so, go back through the material. Rewrite your notes or type them up so they're legible. Organize everything so it's ready to be studied.

Step #4: Set a Timer

Do not spend three hours studying for a test in a row. Bad, bad, bad. Your mind will overload, and you'll start daydreaming, doodling, or otherwise disengaging from the material. Instead, set a timer for 45 minutes, study, and take a 5 or 10-minute break when it goes off. Repeat. Set the timer again for 45 minutes, study, and then take a break. Keep following this process, until you're confident in your knowledge.

Step #5: Master The Material

Remember that you're going to have choices on this multiple choice exam (hence, the name), so as long as you can differentiate between the right and "kind of" right answers, you're golden. You don't have to recite any information – just recognize correct info.

Step #7: Get Someone to Quiz You

To test your knowledge, choose a study partner to ask you questions from notes, former quizzes and assignments, offering you a few options for you to choose from if you're stuck. The best type of study partner will also ask you to explain your answer to see if you really know what you're talking about rather than just reciting the content from the exam.

Step #8: Work It Out

Get stronger and brainier at the same time. Research has found just half an hour of aerobic exercise can improve our brain-processing speed and other important cognitive abilities. Jog a few laps around the block and see if you don’t come back with a few more IQ points.

Step #9: Put Yourself to the Test

Quizzing ourselves may be one of the best ways to prepare for the real deal. And don’t worry about breaking a sweat while trying to remember a particular fact. The harder it is to remember a piece of information in practice mode, the more likely we are to remember it in the future.

Step #10: Get Some Sleep

When there’s a textbook full of facts to memorize, it can be tempting to stay up all night committing them to memory (or trying to). But all-nighters rarely lead to an automatic 100—in fact, they’ve been linked to impaired cognitive performance and greater sensitivity to stress. In the days leading up to a big exam, aim to get those seven to nine hours a night so sleep deprivation doesn’t undo all the hard work you’ve put in.

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