Preparing for Exams
Where and when should I study?
Determine what environment works best for you for studying. Most students work best seated at a desk with a minimum of distractions (noise, family, etc.). It is important to determine what works best for YOU.
- Where? Library, home, desk, sofa, etc.?
- When? Morning, afternoon, evening; before dinner, after dinner; weeknights, weekend?
- How long? 1 hour, 2-3 hours, more than 3 hours?
- How do you study best? Alone, with a friend, in a group? Complete silence, with music, etc.? With or without food?
- Which do you remember better? Things you hear, things you read, things you write or draw?
Preparing for Specific Exams
Objective Tests. These are multiple choice, true/false and matching exams. When studying for these, it is important to:
- Study concepts, examples, and facts
- Study your texts and notes by actively looking for the kind of material that can be answered objectively (dates, names, precise details)
Short Answer. Review notes and textbook:
- Select important terms
- Make a list of these terms
- Write down a definition for each term as it was used in the course
- Think of examples and illustrations of the term
- Determine the relevance of the term or concept
Schedule time to review. If you have several planned exams (finals), use a weekly planner to block in different subjects -- along with eating, sleeping, exercising, socializing, etc. Don't neglect courses you dislike or spend too much time on your favorite courses.
Whether you study for one hour or five, take a five minute break (get up, stretch, get a glass of water, etc.) after twenty-five minutes of studying.
- Pay particular attention to your notes, returned quizzes, and review sheets, asking yourself questions about each objective or topic.
- Search for main ideas and supporting material
- Write main ideas on a separate sheet of paper
- Cover up material and recite out loud
- If you can't remember something, study it, cover it up and test your self again
For vocabulary words:
- Write the terms along the left margin of a sheet of paper and the definitions in a column across from the terms.
- Cover the right side and recite the definitions, sneaking peaks only as needed, then cover the left side and recite the terms.
- Repeat, starting at the bottom and working your way up the list.
Memory Aids (Mnemonics)
Memory aids (mnemonics) can sometimes help you to remember tricky information.
- Try to make your mnemonic as funny or peculiar as possible in order to get it to stick in your memory.
- For a list of terms, make a sentence using the first letter of the terms as the first letter of the words in the sentence. For instance, "Do Kings Play Chess Or Find Games Stupid" might help one remember the scientific levels of classification (Domain, Kingdom, Phyllum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species).