How To Pass a Test & Exam

How To Pass a Test & Exam

May 1, 2010  |  How To Pass

Having trouble passing your test? Don’t feel too disheartened, in this post we’ll discuss how to pass an exam even if you don’t like the subject. I’m afraid there are no secrets, hard work is going to be essential if you wish to learn how to pass a test.

We all know that you can’t pass an exam by doing nothing but exactly how much do you need to do to pass it? This, of course, varies in accordance to your own level of commitment, how difficult the subject is as well as the teacher etc. However, there’s a simple way to systematize the process by dividing it into three categories:

1. Where Are You Now?

Start out by asking yourself how much you’ve studied. Do you feel that your satisfied with how much you’ve learned so far (I’m assuming there’s still time before the exam, otherwise better hurry!). Try to give a quantitative measure of how much progress you’ve made so far, for instance by assigning a number from 0-10 on how ready you are to face the exam.

If you’re unsure on how much you know, I’d recommend you to look for an old exam and then sit down and try to finish it without looking at the answers. When you’re done, count the number of points you scored and the percentage (points achieved divided by all points). The higher the percentage the better prepared you are.

2. Where Do You Want to Go?

The second step is quite obvious. Once you’ve decided where you stand you need to know where to go. Do you wish to achieve a higher grade or simply pass the exam? If all you want is to pass this particular test without caring for a higher grade, then studying for that outcome would make sense, right?

WRONG! You see, even if your intention is to simply pass the exam, you should never (and I mean never) study for that goal. If you aim that low, chances are that you may land even lower but if you were to aim a little bit higher than if you fall, you’ll still pass the exam!

There’s an old Swedish Proverb that says:

“Aim for the stars and you’ll hit the forrest”

3. How To Get There?

In order to pass the exam you need to master the essentials. Every subject has some fundamental concepts that have to be understood. Be sure to go through a) textbook & lecture notes b) past exams (a must!) and try to find the most important concepts. Start out by learning these, there’s no point in trying to understand the advanced topics if you haven’t mastered the basics.

Once you’ve done this you’re ready to move on to more advanced materials. If you only wish to pass the exam, I’d recommend you to try to memorize the easier ones and leaving the complicated ones. If your intention (as it perhaps should be…) is to receive a higher grade then be sure to go through the complicated ones as well, posing any questions you may to the teacher. I’d recommend collecting all the questions on a piece of paper so you won’t need to look for the teacher every time something new comes up.

As long as the exam isn’t due right now, you have time to study. Of course, it’s always better to study a little everyday during a long time span than it is to study a lot during a shorter time span. Try your best to study a little everyday, it’s so much easier to do that than is to carry the burden of knowing that the test is tomorrow and that you’re unprepared. Recall the o’l proverb that says;

“If you don’t have time to do it right you must have time to do it over.”

I’m pretty sure that neither I nor you want to redo the exam. We have to what we have to do, period. Don’t go looking for excuses, enough with the laziness. Organize your studies with a personal study planner and then follow it as strictly as possible. It’s way to easy to get distracted by TV, movies or the like.

This doesn’t mean you should study from morning to evening without doing anything else, it simply means you should learn to PRIORITIZE. This is what medicine nomenclature refer to as triage. List things in order of their importance and finally, what ever you do, don’t procrastinate!

Start now.

About the author

ABDERISAK ADAM is an author, blog writer and a PhD candidate in the institution of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology. He is also the owner and webmaster of www.study-habits.com, a website dedicated to the discussion of study techniques in the context of higher education. Adam is the author of a number of publications including 'The Study Guide PRO'. You can connect with him through Google+, Linkedin or by submitting a form.


106 Comments


  1. I failed at step one.

  2. ugh I have a math test that depends on whether I have to repeat algebra or even pre-algebra. I took algebra last year as a seventh grader! If I fail ill have to retake all those freaking courses! Help me!

  3. Plz help me im in yr 7 and my mum said i have to pass my test and if I don’t i dont get what I really want for Xmas and the test is about science plz help me

  4. My prob is that i hate studying. How will i cope with that- is tHere another way?in

  5. i study Electronic engineering
    2nd year student.
    in 3rd Sem ifailed almost all subjects, i need a brilliant advise, to get pass out of it, pls help me
    guys, I looking forward your suggestion!….
    Gladly wating for ur reply…..

  6. Hey, i am having problems with reading because am not able to concentrate well please help
    I am sitting for my KCSE this year on November

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