Make certain you know what you will be tested over (chapters, concepts, main points).
Study course materials (i.e. books, notes, videos, study guide).
Ask your professor for clarification on any material you do not understand.
Plan ahead! Students are most successful when they study a little bit each night.
Remember, you're really preparing for the next exam everyday!
Study Efficiently and Effectively
Read actively—prioritize information as you go over it. (Making choices forces you
to compare and contrast). Then later you can "hit the high spots".
Chunk information—humans can remember on average about 7 (plus or minus 2) bits of
information. Which is why phone numbers are the length they are. The trick is the
"bits" can be any length. So chunk smaller bits into a single bit easier to remember.
Use a bit of information in 5 to 6 different ways and it will be yours for life. So
define a term, find a simile, find an opposite, use it in a sentence, find the etymology
of the word, work it into a conversation and create a metaphor for it.
Manage your alertness level so it is at the best point for thinking on the exam. Get
sleep so you aren't dazed. Walk around if you are feeling tense. Don't listen to last
minute crammers if you are anxious. (Or if you are too relaxed, do some cramming yourself
to get your excitement level up). It's like doing warm-ups for sprints—get yourself
to the best physiological state.
Recite the information: Reciting small bits of information until you're sick of them
will help put them into your long term memory.
Read the question carefully and critically assess what the statement says.
Look for qualifiers (such as "all," "most," "never," "sometimes," "always," or "rarely").
These are key words. Absolute qualifiers such as "always" or "never" may indicate
a false statement.
Multiple Choice Questions
Answer questions in your head first, before looking at answers on test.
Mark questions you can't answer immediately, and come back for them if you have time.
DO NOT stop at the first item that "sounds good". If you are having trouble telling
the difference between the choices on many multiple choice test items, then you have
not learned the material at the right level for the class. Learning comes in "levels".
For example, the most superficial is knowing that a machine is a bicycle. Another
level is being able to describe how the bicycle moves. A deeper level is being able
to sit on the bicycle and move. An even deeper level is explaining the role of the
bicycle in health and fitness. An even deeper level is being able to evaluate the
impact of the bicycle on the environmental system. And a very deep level is being
able to use the bicycle to create something no one has seen before, a bicycle ballet
or a water pumping system. Most college work involves learning at least at the level
of riding the bicycle but you may only be studying at the recognition level.
Don't change your response from the first choice you pick unless you realize you have
misread the item. Research shows that your first choice is more often the right one
(it is information bubbling up from your brain).
Machine Graded Tests
Be careful that the answer you mark corresponds to the question you are answering.
Check the number of the question against the number you are marking on the answer
sheet whenever you switch sections and again at the top of each column.
Watch for stray marks.
Open Book Tests
If given a choice, vote against them! They are usually much harder than closed-book
There will not be time to look up each question, so prepare adequately even though
it is "open-book."
Write any formulas/basic information you will need on a separate sheet.
Use tape tabs (post-it notes, paper clips) to indicate important pages.
If using your notes, number the pages and prepare a table of contents.
Read questions carefully and thoroughly .
Assess what is being asked. Many essay questions have multiple parts. It helps to
break the question apart into sub-questions that must be answered. This will help
you make sure you have answered the question in its entirety.
Read the essays first, then as you answer multiple choice questions see if there are
clues to help you with the essay questions.
A common pitfall when taking essay exams is not writing enough. Practice actually
helps. Create essay questions from your course material and write answers to them.
Review your answers for grammatical errors, clarity and legibility if you have time.
Write as clearly as you can. If necessary use blank lines between sections, write
within the margins and use only one side of the paper - do what you need to in order
to make your writing legible. If your teacher can't read what you wrote, then credit
cannot be assigned.
Consider using a pen, as they produce more readable writing in most cases.
When possible, write on one side of the page only. Writing often bleeds through and
obscures the writing on the other side, making it difficult to read.
Trust yourself: If you have studied effectively, then trust that the information will
emerge if you give it time and context. Start writing/responding, reflecting on questions
and let the information emerge.
Never leave a question blank—you will surely earn nothing. It is better to guess and
hope that your brain will pull out some piece that is connected.
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