Health Center: Studying for Exams
Preparing for a test begins on the first day of class. All the following are things you can do on a daily or weekly basis.
1. On the first day of class, use your syllabus to identify test dates. Enter these dates on your Semester Planning sheet as well as your daily planner. Also mark a reminder one week before the test date.
2. Attend every class. If you are ill, let the professor know that you will be missing the class and get notes from a classmate.
3. Take good notes in class. Review the notes as soon as possible after class and weekly thereafter.
4. Employ appropriate study strategies to learn the material as you go along .
5. Maintain a list of topics that you can use as a check list when you review for the test. For example, for French, the list might include "present tense-- verbs; vocabulary in Ch. 1-5; possessive pronouns."
6. Make up questions on reading assignments and lectures as you review. Answer your own questions.
7. Form a study group to review the material. Remember you will have a good understanding of the material if you can explain it to yourself or to someone else.
Start your preparation by doing the following:
1. Know what material will be covered on the test. Know the test format - objective, essay, multiple choice.
2. Plan out your review. Plan longer time periods for reviewing concepts, overviews, and possible essay questions. Plan shorter chunks of time to review detailed information and to memorize material. Note that at this point you are reviewing, not doing initial learning.
1. Get materials together--pens, pencils, blue books, etc.
2. Get a good night's sleep.
3. Avoid sleeping pills, alcohol, excessive caffeine.
1. Eat breakfast.
2. Do either something relaxing, or do some exercise, whichever will prepare you best.
3. Allow time to reach the test location, on time, without rushing.
4. Bring the necessary materials.
If talking about the test beforehand makes you nervous, avoid it. Wait outside the classroom until the professor arrives.
2. Sit where you will be comfortable. The front of the classroom may have an advantage; you can easily ask questions, and you don't have to see other students working away furiously!
3. Relax. Take some deep breaths.
4. Do some positive self-talk: "I have studied well, and I know this material."
5. Listen carefully to any last minute instructions or announcements. If changes in the test are announced, write them down.
6. Do a "brain dump". That is, if there are formulas or a list of items that you know you will need, write them in the margin now, before you begin the exam.
7. Read the directions on the test. Look for the grading system--how points will be distributed, the relative weight of each part of the test. Note whether aids such as calculators are allowed.
8. Plan your time. Leave 5-10 minutes at the end to go back to unanswered questions and to check your work.
9. On objective tests, put a check mark by any question that stumps you. Move on to the rest of the test. Later, if time allows, you can come back and make your best guess on the questions checked. This technique has three advantages:
you don't use time on difficult questions and then lose time for easy ones;
b. you get a lift from answering the easier questions; and
c. you may find the answer to questions you checked in later test items.
If you are sure that you will never know the answer to a question, quickly make the best guess you can, and go on. Use your time on questions you can answer correctly. (Exception: if you will be penalized for errors, leave these items blank and go on.)