How to Pass Every College or University Exam That You Take

two sheets of a paper and some pens

Tip #1: Take good notes.

This may be easier said than done. Whether you’re taking notes by hand or on your laptop/mobile device, once you start trying to capture everything your professor is lecturing, things can get pretty crazy.

The Challenge of Taking Notes

The truth is not everyone is good at transcribing notes. Maybe the professor talks too fast or too slow. Maybe the material that’s being taught is too complex. Oftentimes, at the end of class, you look down to find pages of notes that you can barely read! Some students may think that this is efficient and when exam time rolls around, they’re trying to make sense of their own handwriting! Needless to say, it’ll be quite challenging to try and actually retain any valuable information from such notes.

Benefits of Taking Good Notes

That’s why it’s important that you take good notes. This task doesn’t end when the class does! The best way to ensure that you’re taking good notes is to schedule some study time outside of class to re-organize your notes. This not only helps you to better understand the lecture, but it’ll also be visually easier in helping you remember. When test time rolls around, you’ll be able to read through your notes a little better as well as use your photographic memory.

Tip #2: Make mental associations with your notes.

This helpful tip goes hand-in-hand with Tip #1. With note taking, the neater the notes are the more likely you’ll visually remember them. Psychologist can tell you that there are other ways to make mental associations with your notes.

The Psychology Behind it All

Susan K. Perry, Ph.D. wrote in her article, “7 Surprising Facts About Remembering” in Psychology Today that “memories that pop up involuntarily share a lot in common with those recalled voluntarily, including being equally vivid.” So, whatever you need to remember, your notes would be considered voluntary, while what you actually need to remember might be considered involuntary. She also stated that “memories arrive in a series, called a memory chain, and may be either time-related or concept-related.” So, in theory, one involuntary memory may very well release a chain reaction of involuntary thoughts related to your exam material.

These associations don’t have to make sense to anyone but you. So, no matter how quirky they are, if it helps you remember key information that will help you pass your exams, use it!

Tip #3: Get a study partner.

This might be one of those suggestions that you may have heard repeatedly, but it’s certainly worth repeating again because it actually works! Finding someone to comb through course material can help you in ways you may not even realize. Your study partner can challenge you to do better. He or she may have useful study techniques to share with you and vice versa. Your study partner may be able to point out certain things within the course material that you might have overlooked.

Great Minds May Think Alike

As the old saying goes, “Two heads are better than one!” But who says you have to have just one study partner? Why not join a whole group or create your own study circle? With study partners, you’re able to comfortably comb over the course material and ask questions that you may not have wanted to ask during class.

Tip #4: Ask questions—lots of them!

How will you know if you don’t ask? College prepares you for real-world experience and part of that experience requires communicating with people, asking questions, trouble-shooting, collecting and offering information.


We understand that some people are just shy by nature, but when it comes to trying to pass an exam, it is absolutely crucial that you get quickly comfortable asking your professor questions. It might just be the difference between an A and a B+!

Tip #5: Be disciplined.

In college, no one is going to make you do anything in regards to completing your assignments. While there is much value in working in teams in regards to studying and completing projects, college is also about being able to work independently. Future employers want to know if they can count on you to execute a certain task. While they all certainly appreciate a team player, they need to know if you can carry your own weight in responsibilities. Being disciplined is key to proving that you can.

What are some of the ways you can be disciplined?

  1. Be on time.
  2. Set goals.
  3. Plan ahead.
  4. Stick to your schedule.
  5. Do what you say you’re going to do.
Tip #6: Take good care of yourself.

While being a work-a-holic might be admirable by some, it can also put a toll on your body. Doing too much can have an indirect effect on how you study, how you retain information, and how you remember. College is hard work and demanding, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s up to you to maintain a certain level of discipline so that you’re taking care of your body so that you can take good notes, remember them and get good grades.

Tip #7: Stay organized.

Yet another old strategy that has proven to work over the years. Organization is key. Tips #1 – #6 will not work without it. Trying to execute any of the aforementioned steps without organization is going to be chaotic and render the exact opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish—passing your exams.

FNU: The University That Can Help You Do This

Florida National University (FNU), a regionally accredited university in the South Florida area, can provide all the tools you need to succeed. We award degree programs at the associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s level. You also have the opportunity to earn your degree online. View our curriculum of certificate and degree programs as well as the ones you can earn online.

Contact FNU’s enrollment department to get the application process started today!