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 just hate maths and i want to kill the person who had created this subject

  2. i need help…….

    im from final year ec branch….i dont know how to get involve in my subjects…i can pass my subjects…but how to get knowledge from it….pls help…22 days left of my b.e life…i want to know wat engineering is….

  3. Please help,I am from London, England in my secondary school we have three assessments every 2 months or more and i really need help to revise for every subject(i have tried every advice on google, my school’s website and from my siblings and i find it very hard to cope with tests on every subject because i flopped my tests more than 5 times) and it makes it feel as if i’m dum and stupid.

    Please Help And Reply Anytime Soon,

    Natman074

  4. help im just bored my maths and i got a test coming up pls help
    pls reply
    btw luv the article

  5. oh thanks alot for your advice i got a very low level 4 i was waiting 4 almost 1-2 months now still nothing. Oh yeah now im going to a lower sets 4 dummmies now thank you, my hopes are gone now.

  6. it’s good because it helps one succed in life i love this

  7. my class 11th halfyearly exmas are startin frm 20th of oct n 1st paper is of physics n m nervous dat tooo xtra wala well after readin dis thora sa confidence badh gaya bt still i would request u if u cld give sme more suggestions…….~(m frm pcm stream)

  8. It is brilliant!
    But u have to write a bit short!!!!
    Nothing is too difficult! But the exams r going very fast that is why everything become sooo……… difficult!
    I need some help!
    Please help me !
    I don’t won’t to fail I want to pass with class first please send a helpful advise in my mail ID!!!

  9. this is a powerfull one to me .i will do it ..thnx a lot

  10. Hi,
    i am a standard grade student in scotland and i failed my biology exam (its the first one and just a topic test about plants), i decided to take all three sciences as i want to pursue a medical career. i am having second thoughts on this decision and i don’t know what i can do to concentrate more whilst studying and make it more fun.
    thank you

  11. iam fail my last exam both maths and chemistry how be pass next exam iam reading very instersting so i can not to be pass and i get 09/20 maths and chemistry i get mark20/11 how be dlevp my marks help me plz

  12. thak yu lots u helped me alooottt

  13. hey i did edexcel chemistry a/level exam for 2 times i got failed i don’t know what has happened to me.will you help me in this?i got into the uni on condition to show good results in chemistry .now i have a lot of work to do .will u tell me a way how to manage my work?

  14. chemistry edexcel gce A/level 2012 june plz reply me i need your help rite now …

  15. Thanks,I’ll see if it works!!

  16. THANKS ALOT,U RILI HELPED ME, THAK U SOOO MUCH FOR THE HELP COZ I FAILED MA LAST EXAMS BUT NAW WIT DIS AM GANNA ROCK IT.IN FACT AM OLREADY ROKING IT.

  17. eish i have a serious problem i always want to study but i cant keep my promice…i always prospone things…what can i do to solve the problem?…plz help

  18. Hi, I’m 24 years old and still have no degree behind my name. I did 2 years of law, but stoped because I couldn’t commit to studieng. I studied theology for 2 years but stoped that aswell because ii couldn’t commit. I’ve been working for 2 years now but don’t feel like I’m going enywere. I want to pick up my law studies again, but I so scared of failing again. I keep on strugeling to commit. I am a different person that I was back then, but I’m afraid to fail again. Is there something I can do to change this sicle? I need to change my bad habets, but don’t know how?

  19. After 25 days i have my exams but, i didnt red a single lesson . . How I want to cover my all subject in 25 days . . . Pls help me sir. . . .

  20. hey
    I feel so sad about this year ,”second year of medicine ” its soo hard especially biochemistry , I didn’t pass the whole subject , I dunno even I studied kinda hard …. Hope allah help me in the 2nd turn !!! And thank you for the advices 🙂

  21. i failed in 5 subjects i wanna rewrite my exams but i am not able to read for them. iam too lazy. please help.

  22. Actully i m da student reading in grade 9 i havent failed in any exams since my childhood but i always get lower marks da students who were weaker then me had improved but i was da one who never improved .Ya i did improved but didnt have a chance to win da student ….this time to tel honestly i passed in second divisoin i was really disapointed n today i m leaving for hostel….My mom n dad they never forced me to study they just wanted to see me assed but my intention was to be in higher position …Now ,I just want 2 give up my studies just stop my going studies tooo…..what shall i do i dunno??

  23. Hello! My Cambridge-IGCSE Maths exam’s in a week!… The thing is that I’ve started doing well but in the end I ended up wondering myself what to do, because I’ve been very lazy the rest of the year!! I probably not contiue to A’ Level so I want to get a remarkable mark to this exam! But I really need your help!! I’m trying to study as hard as I can but I always get panicked and I can’t continue with low self-confidence! I keep thinking that the Chapters are way too much and I don’t have enough time to read!!! PLEASE HELP ME!! :((( Can you tell me a few tips on how to relax and start reading in a proper way in this situation!!?? (I’m really sorry if my english aren’t very good)

  24. I just broke up with my fiance two weeks ago. I cant concentrate on my studies. My exams are only a month away. I am a bachelors student . I need to pass my exams. What should i do? Please help me 🙁

  25. Help me please 🙁 m doing bachelors in commerce. What should i do to pass the exams?? I am not worried about getting good marks. I just want to pass.

  26. How to pass an exam: Study!
    I see lots of people saying “Help meeeeeee 🙁 crycry” well guess what you are not going to do well at anything with that attitude, thankyouverymuch. So if I were you, I would 1. Pick up a textbook/notebook/do some research and 2. learn exactly what the exam is going to be about. Mhm dasright

  27. I lov diz site…hummwa,it helps

  28. I’ve studied for human resource management for 2 weeks and it feels like I haven’t studied anything at all is it the stress or what

    Any suggestions or advice will be highly appreciated!!

  29. im the best in english,science,social studies but mathematics ?yeah but i really need helpPLEASE HELP ME!:^O

  30. i study Turin politecnichal university in italy 2nd year student.
    i have failed almost all subjects, now i`m in a holiday in this 2 months I must pass all rexams, i need a brilliant advise, pls help me guys, I looking forward your suggestion!

  31. Close the internet…
    Close the TV…
    Get to work!

  32. There are lots of math videos on the net. Math is all about practice and more practice. Once you do enough sample problems, you’ll get the gist of it.

  33. I’m first year in university and I failed a subject and I’m working to pass my other one! Its very hard out there

  34. thanks try to see if it will work

  35. oh my god i have made it with this it is well

  36. i have a exams like less than a mo
    nth with this i have made it

  37. I stayed home for 7yrs after completing senior high school. It was as a result of failing 2 out of the 8 papers I sat for. It took me many struggle to pass these subjects(chemistry&physics). I am now admitted into a tertiary school now. I attained a weak pass in my semester exams already, whiles friends I move with are making good passes. Who can guide me improve myself and my grades. I am developing dislike for examination.

  38. PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    i just can’t pass in add science.i have no interested in this subject.PLEASE someone HELP me to pass this subject.

  39. I’ll try to follow your advice but if it doesn’t work I’m going to kill myself after I kill you.

  40. discipline is too much necessary for anything.

  41. i have a poor reading habit,wat will i do 2 develop my reading skills,in order to pass my exam effectively

  42. I have trouble with Prose my teacher said if you don’t have good language you will be failed again please i want to master my english language help me 🙁

  43. hi, i am a post graduate student and my exams are really i mean really close… i have a day left and i have not able to study a single word… i want to pass… i m very lazy and i m trying very hard to get rid of the laziness but the immediate problem is i have an exam on day after tomorrow. Please tell me wat to do

  44. I can understand each comcept fully but I can’t score good on tests. What should I do????

  45. This is 1daful, av learn alot from this and may God bless the writer.This is enough 4 sum1 2 pass tests and exams

  46. Im in Ghana in west Africa.i will be writing my BECE Exams.i wanna pass with single number pls help me and i be greateful

  47. Study hard ….its never too late ….if ur too inlove with the internet then study on the internet through educational sites 😉

  48. hi.
    i m wafa sahil, i m a student of class 10th, my final exams will be start at tomorrow and i know i will achieve with best marks,, because i believe on my self. u should belive on ur self and try to pass then InshaAllah u will be pass.

  49. Sigh.. My A Level exams will be in May and I find it difficult to concentrate or pay attention to the lecturers…pls advise.. TQ..

  50. Get you a few packs of index cards and create your notes. I suggest use as many as needed, do not try to cram a lot on one card. The shorter the card, the easier to remember and learn. Once you have your pack of cards made for the subject or chapter, go through them and see if you can answer them without looking at the answer on the back. The ones you know set aside. The ones you need to spend more time studying, stick those in the front. Now you have a set of pocket notes you can take everywhere. No more reasons for not having time to study.

    When I make my cards, it is easier for me to study backwards. So I write the deffinition on the front and the word on the back. Once I learn it like that, I then flip the deck over so I see the word and have to give the deffinition.

    Good luck to you all.

    P.S. The sooner you make your cards for the subject the better your chances of passing with a very high grade. I make my cards the day we get the new material and I have 3-4 days to learn the material. I usually make 94-100 on all of my tests.

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