Best Exam Preparation Resources for Graphic Design Students

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Best Exam Preparation Resources for Graphic Design Students

Get SigmaOS Free

It's free and super easy to set up

Best Exam Preparation Resources for Graphic Design Students

Get SigmaOS Free

It's free and super easy to set up

Best Exam Preparation Resources for Graphic Design Students

If you're a graphic design student who's looking to ace their exams, you've come to the right place. In this article, we'll explore some of the best exam preparation resources available to graphic design students today. Here, we'll cover everything you'll need to know about the exam requirements, key topics, as well as the best textbooks, online resources, and software to aid you in your studies.

Understanding the Graphic Design Exam Requirements

Before you start your exam preparation, it's essential to understand the exam requirements. In most cases, graphic design exams are divided into various sections, with each section designed to test your grasp of a specific area of design. Understanding the exam formats and expectations can help you prepare more effectively and efficiently.

Graphic design is a field that involves creating visual content to communicate a message. It requires a combination of creativity, technical skills, and knowledge of design principles. In a graphic design exam, you will be tested on your ability to apply these skills to real-world design problems.

Exam formats and expectations

The exam format and expectations can vary depending on the institution and the exam itself. However, in most cases, you can expect questions that test your understanding of design principles, techniques, and software. Some exams will require you to complete design projects while others will be comprised of multiple-choice questions and essays.

It's important to familiarize yourself with the specific format and expectations of the exam you'll be taking. This will help you focus your study efforts and prepare more effectively.

Key topics to focus on

Now that you're familiar with the exam formats and expectations, it's essential to focus on the key topics tested in graphic design exams. These topics include typography, color theory, layout, design history, and software proficiency. To get an idea of the design principles you need to know, review your course materials and past exam questions to identify the most tested topics.

Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable, and appealing when displayed. It is an essential aspect of graphic design and involves choosing the right font, size, spacing, and color to convey a message effectively.

Color theory is the study of how colors interact with each other and how they can be combined to create different effects. Understanding color theory is crucial in graphic design as it can impact the mood, tone, and message of a design.

Layout refers to the arrangement of visual elements on a page. It involves considering the hierarchy of information, the use of white space, and the placement of images and text to create a visually appealing and functional design.

Design history is the study of the evolution of design over time. It includes the study of various design movements, such as Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Modernism, and how they have influenced contemporary design.

Software proficiency is the ability to use design software effectively. In a graphic design exam, you may be tested on your knowledge of software such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.

Time management and study strategies

Time management and study strategies can also play a significant role in your exam success. Plan out your exam preparation weeks ahead of time and keep on top of deadlines. It's also important to use active study methods such as flashcards, practice tests, and taking regular breaks to ensure that you're fully prepared.

Additionally, seeking out resources such as design blogs, podcasts, and tutorials can help you stay up to date with current design trends and techniques. Collaborating with peers and seeking feedback on your work can also be beneficial in improving your design skills.

By understanding the exam requirements, focusing on key topics, and using effective study strategies, you can prepare for your graphic design exam with confidence and achieve success.

Top Textbooks and Study Guides for Graphic Design

Now that you have an overview of what to expect from your graphic design exams, it's time to delve into the best textbooks and study guides available to help you prepare for them.

Essential textbooks for design theory

For design theory, a textbook like "Graphic Design School" by David Dabner, Sandra Stewart, and Eric Zempol, provides a comprehensive guide to design principles and techniques. It includes color theory, typography, and practical design projects to help you apply your knowledge.

Another great textbook for design theory is "The Elements of Graphic Design" by Alex W. White. This book covers the basic elements of graphic design, including line, shape, color, texture, and typography. It also includes practical exercises to help you apply these principles to your own design work.

Practical guides for design techniques

If you're looking for practical guides, "Thinking with Type" by Ellen Lupton, covers everything about designing with typography. This book offers great examples of typography in use and how to choose fonts for specific design projects, amongst other valuable information.

Another practical guide to consider is "The Non-Designer's Design Book" by Robin Williams. This book covers the basic principles of design, including contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity. It also includes tips on layout and color, and how to create effective designs without formal training.

Recommended books for design history

To best prepare for design history, "Designing Design" by Kenya Hara is a good place to start. The book provides an excellent overview of modern design history and will help you get a sense of how design evolved into what it is today.

Another great book for design history is "A History of Graphic Design" by Philip B. Meggs. This book covers the history of graphic design from prehistoric times to the present day. It includes information on influential designers and design movements, as well as the social and cultural context in which they emerged.

Supplemental material

In addition to these textbooks and study guides, there are many other resources available to help you prepare for your graphic design exams. Online courses, tutorials, and workshops can provide hands-on experience and feedback from industry professionals. Design blogs and magazines can also provide inspiration and insight into current design trends and practices.

It's important to remember that while textbooks and study guides can provide a solid foundation of knowledge, practical experience and experimentation are essential to becoming a successful graphic designer. So don't be afraid to get your hands dirty and start creating!

Online Resources for Graphic Design Students

Graphic design is a dynamic and ever-evolving field, and staying up-to-date with the latest trends and techniques is essential for success. While textbooks and study guides are essential for exam preparation, there are also several online resources that can help you learn critical design principles and software tools at your own pace.

Online courses and tutorials

Online courses and tutorials are an excellent way to learn about graphic design. Platforms like, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning provide a wide range of courses that cover everything from basic design principles to complex software use. These courses are designed by industry experts and are updated regularly to keep up with the latest trends and techniques in the field. They are also self-paced, which means you can learn at your own speed and on your own schedule.

Moreover, these courses often come with quizzes, assignments, and certificates of completion that can help you track your progress and showcase your skills to potential employers. Some courses are even free, making them accessible to everyone regardless of their financial situation.

Design blogs and websites

Design blogs and websites are also great resources for graphic design students. They provide a wealth of information on design trends, techniques, and tools, as well as inspiration for your own projects. Some of the most popular design blogs include Creative Bloq, Design Observer, and Smashing Magazine. These blogs are updated regularly with new articles, tutorials, and interviews with industry experts.

Design websites like Behance and Dribble are also recommended for design inspiration and learning. These websites allow designers to showcase their work and get feedback from other designers. You can browse through thousands of designs and get inspired by the creativity and diversity of the community.

YouTube channels for design inspiration

YouTube channels are another excellent resource for graphic design students. Channels like The Futur provide in-depth tutorials on design principles and real-life design scenarios. They also offer insights into the industry and tips on how to succeed as a designer. Figma and Adobe Creative Cloud also have their own channels dedicated to various techniques for using their products. These channels are updated regularly and provide a wealth of information for designers of all levels.

In conclusion, online resources are an essential part of learning graphic design. They provide a convenient and accessible way to learn about design principles, software tools, and industry trends. By taking advantage of these resources, you can stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the field and develop the skills you need to succeed as a graphic designer.

Graphic Design Software and Tools for Exam Preparation

Finally, using the right software and tools can significantly impact your exam success. Exposure to industry-standard software is vital, as this is what you'll be required to use effectively in the design industry after graduation.

Mastering industry-standard software

Adobe Creative Suite is widely used across the board and offers design-specific software like Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and After Effects. Sketch, Figma, and Canva have also become popular alternatives worth exploring.

Utilizing design templates and resources

Templates and design resources can also be helpful as they can reduce design time and ensure that you focus on getting the design principles right. Creative Market and Envato Elements offer great template bundles and resources on all things design.

Exploring free and open-source alternatives

If the cost of the industry-standard software is a barrier, exploring free and open-source alternatives can be helpful. GIMP and Inkscape are highly recommended open-source graphic design programs that are comparable to Adobe's offerings.


Overall, utilizing a combination of textbooks, online resources, and software tools can help you prepare more effectively for your graphic design exams. Be sure to plan ahead, prioritize the topics you need to study most carefully, and practice regularly. With the right preparation, you'll be sure to emerge successful.