Do you have a major exam coming up and don’t know where to start to prepare for it? Read below for some ways to have you confident and ready to ace the exam!
Review the material ahead of time
As college students, we are all busy people, but you should take time weeks before the exam to look at the material. If it is a mid-term exam and you wait until the night before, you are not going to have time to teach yourself the entire semester. The week of the exam should be the longest time of studying, but keeping track of what you are learning throughout the semester will help you remember and understand what is happening in the class which will lead to you scoring higher. Cramming all the information last-minute will bring you more stress and you will likely not be able to remember everything.
Have an organized study space
Having a place to study that is clean will help you focus on your work. Having other books or personal items out will distract you and possibly create more stress. If I know I have a lot of work to do, I like to clear my desk ahead of time so I will be happier doing my studying. Have some water and snacks with you in case you need them while studying, but nothing that can possibly get all over your notes. You can also switch up locations, try studying at the library one day and then in your dorm another to see what leads to better productivity.
Organize a study session
Grab a group of peers and have a study session in the library or someone’s dorm room. Having other people to share notes with and ask questions will help you prepare for the exam and have extra support. It also holds you accountable, because you all agreed to study and you can’t back out as easily as you would if you were alone. You can create a group slide show, study guide, or even a video if you want to. You can also talk to the professor if there is one part of the lesson you are all unsure about and can even bring it up in class.
We all need time to decompress and relax, even while studying. If you have been studying for over an hour, take a walk, watch a funny video, or take a trip to the kitchen. This will help recenter your focus and keep you from becoming too tired to continue. Make sure not to get carried away and take too long of a break, because then it will be even harder to get back into studying. Taking regular breaks will help you study for longer periods of time and get more work done.
Plan for your exam day
Getting enough sleep before an exam is crucial in your performance. Even if you study every single term, if you are exhausted you aren’t going to be able to do your best work. Make sure you are hydrated and eaten before the exam, so you are not distracted by your hunger. Plan to get to class earlier than normal to make sure you are on time and don’t miss the beginning of the exam. Make sure to use the bathroom before the exam so you don’t have to during the class and waste time.
Know the details of the exam
Ask the professor if the exam is going to be mostly multiple choice, essay or short answer. You will need to know longer explanations for essays compared to multiple choice, and you will need to know more specific terms for multiple choice compared to essays. If you have taken previous exams in that class, review the format and see what you struggled with. If you typically didn’t do well on a short answer, take a closer look at the notes and see the common trends. If the professor doesn’t tell you and you have no past exams, you have to be prepared for any type of exam to occur.
Say your answers out loud
Speaking your answers whether it’s to a classmate, a family member, or into your phone will help you retain the information. That way it is another way to study besides writing and will help you hear how your notes sound. If it isn’t clear or correct, you can pick up on it and change it before the exam. Saying to someone else they can also ask questions if something doesn’t make sense or is wrong. When we talk out loud, we will often go into more detail than we would on notes taken in class.
Use visual aids
Make a chart or a diagram if that will help better organize your thoughts. Having some sort of drawing especially if you use different colors will help you understand and remember multiple aspects of the information. For example, if you want to memorize different parts of the brain you can draw a brain and label the different parts. If it’s a French exam you can make a chart of the English words on one side and the French translation on the other. It also breaks up the large amount of text in your notes and is easier to glance over before the exam.
Flashcards are a great way to remember key terms for an exam, if you want to know the different laws and their meanings you can put them on each side. It works for many different subjects and is easy to carry around with you. It is a way to see how much you really know about the topic and what you need to work on. You can also grab a friend that doesn’t take the class and they can still help you study. The process of creating the flashcards will also help you write down and remember the material.
What are your favorite methods to use while studying? Let us know in the comments below!