How to prepare for an exam in English (with pictures)

How to prepare for an exam in English (with pictures)
How to prepare for an exam in English (with pictures)

Preparing for your exams can be very tiring, especially if you have no idea how to review your subjects. An exam in English can vary depending on the nature of your course, whether it's composition, English literature, or something as complex as the humanities. However, there are some commonly accepted methods that you can apply to improve your chances of passing your exams in English.


Part 1 of 4: Developing Vocabulary

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Step 1. Create visual aids

These are cards that are very effective in memorizing vocabulary. Write the word on one side of the index card and the definition on the other side. You can check your knowledge yourself or ask a classmate to help you.

You can make electronic files. There are software or applications for smartphones that are used to read the information written on these cards. You enter data for the front side and the back side of the form, and then scroll

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Step 2. Familiarize yourself with radicals, prefixes and suffixes

One way to study vocabulary faster and more efficiently is to learn word stems, prefixes, and suffixes. Being able to identify these things can help you apply some logic, when trying to figure out the meanings of words in English, so you don't have to memorize a long list of terms you don't know.

  • In English, the prefixes un, in, il and ir often indicate a negation.
  • The suffixes -ive, -ative and -itive indicate that a word is an adjective that relates to a noun.
  • The prefix man is usually related to manual gestures.
  • The suffix phobia indicates fear of something.
  • The prefix re means either a step back or a repetition.
  • The prefixes over, sub, suc, sup and sus often mean under, below or in secret.
  • The prefix psyche indicates a relation with thought.
  • The mono (one) and poly (many) prefixes indicate a number or amount.
  • The suffixes log, logo and ology suggest the study of something.
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Step 3. Write down the words and definitions

Even if you don't have index cards, writing down the words and definitions will help you remember them.

  • If you have time, try writing the words and their definitions several times.
  • If your memory is visual, try using different colors. You will probably be able to visualize the color of the word and remember its definition during the test.

Part 2 of 4: Review literary works

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Step 1. Proofread short excerpts from selected texts

This includes rereading poems or short stories that you have studied in class. For longer texts such as the full text of a novel, be sure to reread any important chapters or those that your teacher has presented at length in class.

  • If you took notes while studying a text, review them and then reread the text.
  • Consult your program to remember all the texts you have studied.
  • You can remember the details of a novel if you memorize the chapter titles, the first and the last sentence of each chapter of that novel.
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Step 2. Read the introductory texts and side notes in your textbook

If you have studied using a traditional educational book, read the introductory texts and the notes that accompany the stories or poems you are studying.

These elements, often overlooked on first reading, often give a sense of the context and the big picture that can help you write your essay

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Step 3. Review your lecture notes

Review the notes you took in class. If you haven't taken notes, try to do so in the future. This is the best way to retain the content of a course you have had in class. Teachers rarely ask exam questions that have not been discussed in class. Thus, when you have the opportunity to review the notes taken during the course, you will increase your chances of success.

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Step 4. Identify the themes that present the big picture

Many questions in the literature relate to the theme or the overall vision of a text. If you are having trouble identifying the topics yourself, do some research online, displaying the text title and the word topic in the search bar. You will likely find overviews and guides that will make your review easier. Knowing the usual literary themes helps you identify them in a particular text. Here are a few of them.

  • Man and nature.
  • The relationship between man and a hostile society, God or the deities.
  • The volatile nature of time.
  • Death as an inevitable phenomenon.
  • The state of alienation.
  • The dangers of ambition.
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Step 5. Review summaries and review guides online

There are several websites intended to provide students with summaries and study guides for classical, famous or popular texts. These tools can make your revisions easier, but they should never replace reading text.

If you choose this method, use guides written by reputable experts. Avoid visiting personal blogs and websites whose content has not been written by experts

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Step 6. Memorize details such as the names of the characters

While you don't have to remember these names and the relationships that bind the characters to each other, you should know that these details will help you pass your exam.

  • If you mess up the character names or mix them up, you'll undermine the impact of your answers to the exam questions, even if those answers are otherwise brilliant.
  • Use index cards, whether on paper or on a computer, to remember the names of the characters in your novels, as well as information about them.

Part 3 of 4: determining the content of the exam

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Step 1. Refer to the program of your studies

The best way to prepare for an exam is to view and study your entire curriculum. The majority of teachers who take a program go to great lengths to prepare their students for the exam. In-depth knowledge of the study program can help you pass your exam.

If the teacher does not give you her study program, you will not have this opportunity to prepare. Consider speaking with your teacher before or after class or during office hours, to ask for her schedule or advice on how to organize your reviews

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Step 2. Review your lesson plan

If so, carefully review the lesson plan or schedule applied by your teacher. In many cases, the evaluation method followed is detailed in a manual which contains indications that may help you remember the texts you read or the questions you are studying.

  • The questions your teacher has insisted on in class are certainly very important.
  • Most lesson plans contain a section that deals with exams. Finally, you will have the opportunity to determine the percentage of each exam subject in your overall mark. Thus, you will be able to organize your revision time according to the importance of each subject.
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Step 3. Review your class notes

For some tests, you may need to provide the definition of main concepts or literary trends. For others, you will have to present the way in which the subject is treated in various works. Review your notes and identify definitions, lists, and themes or topics that come up more than once. Usually they can make good test subjects.

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Step 4. Attend your pre-test classes

Often the day or days before the event are the best to attend class. Your teacher may provide an overview of the exam and point out the points that you should emphasize during your revisions. It is also at this time that the professors give their revision program.

  • If you have to skip class, ask a trusted friend or classmate to take copies or handouts for you. You can also ask her to show you the notes she took in class. If she knows you'll be leaving before the end of class, she's more likely to take detailed notes instead of just listening.
  • Otherwise, consider meeting with your teacher to identify the issues he has addressed during your absence. It is best to let them know that you will be leaving the room early. Also let him know that you asked a classmate to take notes for you. Above all, don't tell your teacher that you've always wanted to know if you missed something or if an important issue was answered while you were away, as it might upset him. Instead, ask him to tell you about the issues he has covered in class.
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Step 5. Ask your teacher what you need to review

If she hasn't provided a review schedule or hints about the content of the exam, consider talking to her a day after class. Be very polite and just ask for advice, rather than asking questions about the ordeal.

It is also interesting to know if it is an exam which covers everything you have studied since the start of the semester or if it concerns only the questions answered since the last test

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Step 6. Review the topics of previous exams

If this is not your first exam of the year, take a look at the last exam you took. Many teachers use similar content for their exams. Thus, previous tests can guide you or at least give you an idea about the content of the exam you are preparing.

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Step 7. Determine the presentation of the exam

Apart from the content, you can ask your teacher to give you instructions on how to take the exam. For example, this could be several multiple choice questions or a complete essay. Such indications will facilitate your review.

If you know that your exam will be done on a computer or using pen and paper, you will be able to choose the best way to review. For example, a computer with word processing software can save you from spending several hours reviewing your spelling rules

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Step 8. Determine the materials needed to take the exam

Prepare to undergo your test in good conditions, by bringing the appropriate equipment. If your exam is carried out on a computer, you will not have to contribute anything.

  • Find out if you will need a regular pencil or pen, paper, or an exam book. Also check whether you will be allowed to consult your textbook or any previously read novels during the exam.
  • Some teachers may even allow you to use index cards or a review program during the exam.

Part 4 of 4: forming a study group

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Step 1. Suggest that your classmates form a study group

You are probably not the only person who is willing to prepare well for their English language tests. Talk to your classmates before or after class and point out that a study group is a great way to increase the effectiveness of your reviews.

You can probably set up a study group if you don't wait until the last minute to do so. Therefore, plan ahead

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Step 2. Share your notes

Everyone has their own way of taking notes during the lesson. So exchanging and comparing grades can help remember discussions during class. It is also a good way to learn about the issues that have been dealt with during your absences from class.

  • Remember that the participants in your group have no plans to share their notes with other students, so avoid making nasty comments about their note writing, clutter, or doodles.
  • Don't be embarrassed by the condition of your grades. You too have no plans to share them with others. So even if your notes are messy and poorly written, they can help a student who has none at all.
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Step 3. Talk about literary texts

A lively discussion of a text is a good way to make the text interesting. In addition, it gives you the opportunity to deepen your knowledge of the text. Be sure to keep your discussion going by reviewing the content and consider supporting your point by referring to excerpts from the text.

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Step 4. Review the questions asked in previous exams

Suggest that your classmates show the marks they got in previous exams. This will allow you to make comparisons to identify the best answers based on a particular examiner. If, for example, your teacher gives a higher mark, when the answer is long and detailed or when it goes straight to the point, you will have valuable elements in determining how you answer the questions on your exam.


  • Don't wait until the last moment to revise. Cramming has never been a good way to prepare for an exam.
  • Develop long shots based on questions and answers. You can even get a head start on your teacher and see if your exam preparation is on track.
  • Try not to annoy your teacher by overwhelming her with questions about the exam. It assumes that you have been continuously attentive in class and that you will demonstrate this by correctly answering the questions that will be asked of you during the test.

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