Choosing what to study for a test

Welcome to our first blog post at Tom’s Tutoring. Today we’re going to help you answer the question “What should I study for my test?”. If you can answer this question clearly for yourself, you’ll be able to spend your limited time studying efficiently, wasting less time procrastinating and studying non-core topics. A tutor will be able to help you answer this question even more clearly – we understand the courses and can offer a more personalised approach tailored to your ability and course.

We’re going to set this out in a simple order, with the items at the top to be studied first. It’s clear and simple, but doesn’t take into account the many variations between different subjects and schools – so if you have any doubts ask your tutor.


  1. Hints from your teacher

–   This is extremely high yield. Different teachers do this in different ways (hints, asterisks, over-allocation of class time etc.). Practice these questions into oblivion. You should not get a single one of these questions wrong – regard them as free marks!

  1. Hints from the teachers of the other classes

–   Commonly each teacher will hint about only a few tasks or questions, with each teacher hinting about different ones. If you know about all the hints, you have an advantage. Talk to your friends.

  1. Hints from past students

–   Ask past students about what they remember being important. Their impressions are useful because sometimes the important topics reveal themselves only after the test or the final exam. Don’t focus on the specific questions on their test – it’s their impressions and feelings that count for most. Especially don’t try to memorise or copy their test – it never helps and is an inefficient and desperate step.

  1. Summary worksheets and end of chapter tests from your textbook

–   This is the most efficient way to practice the whole topic and reveal weak points that require more work. Always check your answers and always time yourself.

  1. Practice any weak points uncovered by Step Four

–   Practice makes perfect. You will know after Step 4 what areas you need to focus on. Practice them until it’s a strong point using your textbook subtopic questions. Repeat Step Four to find new weak points, and practice them. If you do this well, to the point you have no weak points identifiable, you will do very well on your test.

  1. Talk to your friends and study together

–   Study groups are a great way to learn efficiently from each other.  They also help you choose what to study because you can talk about what topics you’ve each been studying. Don’t begrudge teaching others, it’ll help you cement your knowledge.


Now that you’ve efficiently chosen what to study, you can start studying. Remember to focus on worded, application style questions – that’s always where the marks are.

If you have any questions or need a tutor, don’t hesitate to call me. Please share this post with your friends if you found it useful.