How to Study for a Philosophy Exam

Are you having trouble preparing for your philosophy exams? Would you like to learn some practical tips to help you study for philosophy exams? If so, then this article is meant for you. We have combined some effective methods that you can apply to help you prepare for your philosophy exams. The tips are pretty effective. If used well, then you might just ace that philosophy test.

Students often fail philosophy exams due to a lack of sufficient preparation. Some fail due to their tendency to overthink situations. Take, for instance, the following story:

Students were supposed to sit for an exam; they came in early, settled down, and waited for the professor to come. The professor arrived later and handed the students the answer booklets. For the question, the professor told them to simply prove that “this specific chair exists” in an essay. The professor gave the students two hours to write the essay. However, after just one minute, a student handed in her paper and took her leave. The rest struggled to write the essay. After two hours, they all submitted long essays back.

When the essays were returned, there was only one A, and the lady that submitted the paper after one minute had it. The other students got furious and wanted to see what she had written. So she showed them. She had written only two words: “What chair?” for that she got an A.

What this story tries to bring out is that you should think critically before you write anything on a philosophy paper. Try to prepare for your exams not in a passive manner but actively. Do not just skim over notes and journals; that does not help you at all; it might even cause confusion. Focus on active studying. To achieve active studying, you require to apply the following tips:

Write essays for practice, preferably timed

What better way to prepare for an exam rather than study in an exam mock-up environment. Writing practice essays under a set time with no cheating exerts pressure on your mind. Through these processes, you get to effectively test how much you know about philosophy. You test your:

  1. The stuff that you can recall
  2. Point organization strength

You also get used to the examination environment, which makes the actual exam environment less tense.

Read for your practice essays

Before you write down any practice essay, ensure you revise for it. By doing so, you gain purposeful studying, which leads to ultimately better understanding.

Think up examples of your own to help illustrate the abstract points

When defining a point, try to draw up your example. Made-up examples that make sense help you remember the theoretical parts related to the example. Hence instead of keeping in mind every abstract principle, improvising your own example.

The best part about improvising is that your professor might give you a point for it, that is, of course, if the example makes sense.

Practice developing outlines

After writing your practice essay, try developing its outline. Please do not refer to the essay; develop it from your head. Doing so helps you remember all the points better. It also enables you to improve your point organization.


Philosophy requires a lot of studying to master. However, if studying is passive, then it is not helpful. The tips provided in this article help you prepare for your exams in an active manner. When applied well, you might just ace your test.

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