When to Stop Studying for an Exam

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We’ve all been there as students: pre-exam nerves, anxiety about how the test is going to go. It’s hard to know when it’s OK to put the notes and flashcards down because you’re ready! So, we’ve put together this handy guide to help know when to stop studying.

Whether it’s a pre-algebra test, the SAT®, or prepping for that tough AP® calculus exam, careful studying and preparation is key to success. Even if the material seems like a breeze, all that can easily change when it’s time to answer that first question. 

Preparation is crucial to making sure your child achieves their goals and aces the test. And as they’re nearing the finish line, these useful indicators will help them feel confident and ready to do their best 

If you’re reading this, and you’re not sure how to help your child get started, this guide to goal-setting for kids can help! And for those students with a math test on the horizon, check out this specific guide to how to study for a math test

9 signs your child can stop studying now

To be clear, there’s no single indicator that can 100% guarantee the test will go well for your student. However, if they can do all or most of these things, chances are great that they’ll rock the test!

Here are 9 key signs that yes, they’re prepared and yes, it’s OK to stop studying and relax. 

1. They meet their goals on a practice test (or two)

Ask your child or their teacher if they have a practice test that could help them assess their skills. If preparing for an AP® or SAT® exam, there are an abundance of these available, just make sure the practice test is published by a reliable source. 

Not only is a practice test a great initial assessment of what your child needs to work on, students can get an accurate idea of how they’ll need to budget their time during the real thing. If they consistently meet or exceed their goals as test day approaches, it’s a very good sign they’re ready! 

2. They can explain important concepts to a parent, friend, or tutor

Studies show that teaching others is a highly effective way to learn. And when kids can do it well, that means they really know their stuff! 

So, encourage your child to explain key concepts to you, a peer, or a tutor who has been helping them study. Make sure the “learner” has access to the correct material so they can double check the “teacher's" explanations and examples. 

3. Showing their work is easy 

Most in-depth tests will require students to show their work at some point. Sometimes, kids will think they’ve got the right answer, but if they can’t prove why it’s the right answer, that means there’s still work to be done. 

When kids can show their step-by-step math solutions and/or clearly explain their thinking in short-answer or essay format, they’ve most likely mastered the toughest material on the test. 

4. Their tutor gives a vote of confidence

It’s one of the best benefits of one-on-one tutoring: your child’s tutor knows their strengths and weaknesses well enough to say if they’re ready. 

A great tutor will have worked with your student on key concepts that need practice, reviewed important material, and tracked their progress along the way. So, they’ll know very well which indicators demonstrate the student’s preparedness, and accordingly, their vote of confidence carries a lot of weight.  

5. They can correctly answer a variety of questions

Multiple choice questions will only get you so far. In fact, this type of question often only scratches surface-level knowledge. With that in mind, it’s best to practice with a range of question formats. 

If your child can correctly answer short answer, essay, true/false, and other question types that will appear on the test, that speaks well of the depth of their knowledge. When they can rock any format of question, odds are there won’t be unpleasant surprises on their exam paper! 

6. They won’t get enough rest before test day

Late night cram sessions are hardly ever a good idea. 

Plus, cramming for a test often fails. Not only that, last-minute, stressful studying leaves students feeling overwhelmed and anxious on test day. So, if it’s a choice between staying up all night or doing what they can and getting a good night’s sleep: we recommend the latter. 

7. They can explain why a wrong answer is wrong

If your student can correct mistakes in their previous practice tests or identify errors in a friend’s work, they clearly know a good chunk of the material. 

Encourage your student to work with you, a peer, or their tutor to identify and work past common mistakes. That way, they’ll be better able to avoid those pitfalls themselves!

8. They’re ready with a few good test-taking strategies 

Process of elimination, breaking down the question into parts, writing down useful equations at the top of the test: these are all helpful strategies to have ready on test day. 

Of course, strategies aren’t everything. However, they can be tremendously useful for time management, not to mention making the test a less stressful experience. If you’re unsure of what strategies are best for their upcoming exam, ask your student to reach out to their tutor or teacher for advice.

9. They feel confident about material drawn from a variety of sources 

No single short quiz or homework question encompasses everything kids will need to know for the big test. So, as they study, coach your child to review a breadth of material. If they missed a few days, seeking out after-school help from their teacher is also a good idea.

Then, when your child knows their class notes, practice questions, and other relevant materials like the back of their hand, they’re probably in great shape. 

Get homework and test prep help from the best

Students have been through a lot in the past two years, and they deserve support and encouragement now more than ever. Whether it’s getting math homework help, expert SAT®, AP® Computer Science or Calculus tutoring, or STEM inspiration above and beyond what’s taught in school, we’ve got resources to help! 

Check out our Math Resource Center and explore 60+ online private tutoring topics. 

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Virginia started with iD Tech at the University of Denver in 2015 and has loved every minute since then! A former teacher by trade, she has a master's in education and loves working to embolden the next generation through STEM. Outside the office, you can usually find her reading a good book, struggling on a yoga mat, or exploring the Rocky Mountains. 

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