If you’re a student, exams are an important part not only of any class, but also your final grade. Preparing throughout the semester is the most effective way to do well on your final exams. Ultimately, there’s just no shortcut for knowing the material. However, even if it’s the night before your final exam and you’re feeling unprepared, don’t panic. There are things you can do to help you pass your exams.
Know where you stand in the class.
It’s important throughout a term to know what your grade is. If you keep this information in mind, it will help you know how much time you need to devote to studying for an exam.
If you aren’t sure what your grade is, check your syllabus. Most teachers give “weights” to assignments and other course elements (participation, etc.). You should be able to get a rough idea of how you’re doing from this.
If you’re still unsure about your performance, talk with your teacher.
Find out what material the exam is going to cover and what format it is.
Teachers and professors have different methods and formats for final exams. Some will make an exam comprehensive, while others will only test on a certain section of the material covered in class. Some exams are essays while others are multiple choice. Finding out what information the exam will cover and its format can help you more effectively study.
Check the syllabus to see if this information is on there. Paying attention in class will also help, since most teachers and professors will announce what material the exam will cover.
If you are not sure or missed a day of class, you can ask your teacher or professor, but it’s important to not annoy them with repeated or overly detailed requests. Simply asking “could you please tell me what material I need to know for the exam” is enough to direct your study time.
Understand how you study best.
Every individual learns differently. Knowing the conditions under which you study best will help you most effectively learn and retain information that you need for your exam.
For example, if you know that you need absolute silence to concentrate on the material you need to learn, you can either study in a library or in a quiet room at home. You may also be someone who needs a little noise or commotion to help you focus.
”Multitasking” is a myth. While you might think you’re able to watch TV, text your friends, and study for exams at the same time, your brain simply can’t handle that many competing streams of information. Give yourself some quiet, dedicated study time, and leave the other stuff for your leisure time.
Prioritize your study time.
Figure out which exams are the most important and devote the most study time to them. By doing this you will optimize your study time and help ensure that you pass your exams.
If you are in college and have an exam in one of your major or minor fields, you’ll want to give the most time to studying for these exams over general education courses, for instance.
If you are doing poorly in any class, devote enough time to studying for this class to make sure that you pass it and don’t have to repeat it.
Start studying early.
It is never too early to start studying for a final exam, but a month before the test date is a good time to begin your preparations. This will ensure that you’re not cramming information too close to the exam and then forgetting it on test day.
You can study simply by reviewing your notes for 20-30 minutes a day. If you have questions, ask the professor.
No matter in which class you have an exam, from the easiest subject to the most difficult, you need to study. Even if it’s only reviewing class notes for 30 minutes, studying the material from your class will benefit you on the final exam.
Study by reviewing class notes, thinking of discussions, or going to a study group will often remind you of information you forgot over the course of the term.
It’s important to have confidence that you will pass. But beware of overconfidence, which can sabotage your ability to think clearly about an exam.
Consider making free associations between information you learn and what you know. You can also make up things to help you out.
It may also help you to write index cards with information you need to know.
Join a study group or class study session.
Taking part in a study group or attending a class study session can be very useful in understanding course material for an exam. Just make sure that you’re actually studying and not socializing.
Study groups with friends or classmates can be very helpful study tools. Every person has different strengths with learning and material you may not understand someone else likely will.
Teachers and professors will sometimes offer study sessions for their classes. These are an excellent opportunity to learn material that will likely be on an exam as well as ask any lingering questions you may have.
Switch up your study spots.
Studies suggest that changing your environment after spending a long time studying in one place can help improve your brain’s retention. Having a couple of different study spots — your room, a quiet coffee shop, the library — may help boost your brainpower.
Do a practice exam.
Practice exams are an excellent, highly effective way to study for tests. They will help you relax and point out any weak areas you may have going in to the final exam date. In fact, some studies suggest that practice-testing is a more effective way to study than highlighting, re-reading, or summarizing material.
You can take any essay or problem and use it as your mock exam.
Make sure you do the mock exam in the same allotted time as the actual exam.
If you test yourself just twice, you will remember 75-80% of the material two weeks later. With no practice tests, that figure is just 20%.
At some point, you cannot study any longer without stressing yourself out or confusing yourself. Within a day of the exam, set aside your study material and be confident in the fact that you’ve done the work.
You will not learn a lot of new content within 24 hours of an exam.
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