Preparing for an exam can be stressful and time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be.
There’s no need to stress out or cram. By doing a couple simple things ahead of time, you can ensure that you are confident and ready for anything that comes up on the test.
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The following how are few steps to help you prepare for examinations:
Step 1: Set a realistic study schedule and begin studying early
Give yourself more than enough time to review the material that was covered in class.
You might want to gauge how soon to start studying by how much material you need to review. For instance, if you have to review material for an entire semester, you might want to start studying a few weeks prior. However, if you are just taking a test that covers material over a few chapters, a week prior or even three to four days may be sufficient.
• Only you know how long it takes you to study, so you are the best judge of when to start studying.
• If the class material is especially difficult for you. Start studying early. Give yourself enough time to truly grasp the material, practice it and then review it.
• Get a full night’s sleep before the exam. Your brain needs time to subconsciously digest everything you’ve put into it, so start early so you don’t have to stay up all night.
Step 2: Take notes while you study.
Yes, take even more notes. You can highlight and underline the information as well, but writing the information down really helps you retain it better. Make sure to write down concepts that you are struggling with or are having a hard time remembering.
• Break down complex subjects into steps or parts. For instance, if you are trying to learn the order of historical events, list out each event that happened in the order they happened. For instance, first Linus Pauling discovered DNA, then he was awarded a prize. Write down the time frame and the events that influenced each happening. Knowing these side notes should help you to recall information because they increase your level of understanding.
Step 3: Review your syllabus.
The syllabus is an outline of everything that you should have learned over the course of the class. It’s a good place to start to understand major ideas and topics that you should be learning from the class. Review it and highlight the titles and subheads.
These are the sections that you’ll need to at least review to make sure you understand the big ideas behind the topics.
• Some teachers write down the page numbers or chapters that each section of the syllabus pertains to in your book. Take note of those pages because you should definitely review them.
Step 4: Make flashcards.
After you have taken notes from studying all of your materials including the book and your notes, use that information to make flashcards. (Grab an index card or cut paper into squares to use as a flashcard.) Turn statements into questions.
• For instance, if the statement is Linus Pauling was one of the discoverers of DNA, then write on the flash card the question, who was one of the main discoverers of DNA? Write the question on one side and the answer on the other.
• Sometimes a question will spark an idea for a follow-up question. When you’re making flashcards, often you’ll be able to see how you may have forgotten to study something. For instance, who were the other discoverers of DNA? This question springs from the Linus Pauling statement because the word “main” reminds you that there were other people involved in DNA’s discovery.
• If you don’t know the answer to follow-up questions, then you should research the information and make flashcards for those questions too.
• Start making flashcards for the information that you are having trouble remembering or grasping. This is the information that you need to review the most. Then, move on to information that you already know pretty well.
• Making physical copies of flashcards is recommended because you have to write down the questions and answers, which is a repetitive process that will help you remember the information. Also, you can carry the flashcards around and use them at any time. However, there are websites such as cram.com that allow you to make online flashcards.
Step 5: Identify what concepts are most important
Set priorities and study the most important concepts first.
Try to identify the content of the questions you will be asked anticipate test questions. Ask yourself: “If I were making up this test, I would probably ask…”, and then answer these questions. Also, time permitting, try writing some multiple-choice test questions; guidelines and examples are provided in Composing Multiple-Choice Test Questions.
Step 6: Do not simply memorize facts
You will have to go beyond straight memorization. Concentrate on understanding the material taught; compare it, contrast it, and interpret its meaning. Focus on understanding the ideas and concepts of the course which knit the facts and details together. You must be more than familiar with the material; you must be able to write it down, talk about it, analyse it, and apply it. If there are graphs, tables, or figures on the test you will be asked to interpret data.
Step 7: Actively summarize
For each major concept, integrate information from your lecture notes, the lecture presentations, text in the printed guide, and required readings onto a summary sheet by diagramming, charting, outlining, categorizing in tables, or writing paragraph summaries of the information. Your studying should also focus on defining, explaining, and applying terms.
Step 8: Study with other well-prepared students
These study sessions will give you the opportunity to ask questions and further your understanding of the course material.
Step 9: Do practice questions.
This is especially helpful for subjects such as math. Practice doing the questions in the book that you were assigned for homework. Do extra questions in the back of the book. Re-do questions that you got wrong, and try to figure out why you got them wrong. Do practice questions until you feel more comfortable with the subject matter.
• If you still have more time before your exam, ask for assistance either from a teacher or a friend.
Step 10: Review past tests…
To experience the style of questions that have been asked in the past, as an indication of what you might expect, and to determine the level of thinking required (recognition, synthesis, analysis, application) and the degree of difference between incorrect and correct responses. But don’t spend too much time on this. Your time is better spent mastering the present material.
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