Saint Ignatius of Loyola teaches us the difference between general and particular examinations of conscience in his Spiritual Exercises. The general examination is performed at night, before going to sleep, and consists in looking back at any sins committed or virtues practiced during that day. The particular examination occurs at midday. In it we focus our attention on one particular fault against which we are struggling, or a virtue we are trying to cultivate.
Before starting our examination of conscience, we should ask for guidance from the Holy Spirit. Upon finishing, we beg forgiveness to God for the sins we have committed and give Him thanks for the virtuous acts we were granted to perform.