It’s been a little while since I’ve taken a test, exam, or even a quiz. The last test I took was “Which Game of Thrones Character Are You?” and I’m guessing that doesn’t count. I get it though. Studying is not fun, especially when you have multiple exams over a couple days. Or worse, when your last exam is on the last day and last hour of the exam period but all your friends have been free for a week. For myself, I think the key to surviving exam season and studying is making up a strategy that works for you. No tricks or loophole, just strategy. It took me a while to devise my strategy and get to a place where I no longer took 10 naps before even cracking open a textbook but once I had my game plan in place, studying became more of a challenge or game that I wanted to conquer. The next few tips are how I not only survived exam seasons but beat them.
The first 3 tips have to do with knowing about your exam and how you will be tested.
1) Know Your Exam Format
Knowing your exam format will save you time and stress acne. It’s also the basis for your strategy. For example, if your test is all multiple choice, this will usually require you to study in more detail. I like to write out key words that are associated so that I can spot them right away during the test. On the other hand, a short answer exam will require you to know several key points about the main topics and terms. Below are some more pointers:
2) Know Your Exam Length
As a continuation of number 1, knowing your exam length can help you narrow down what you have to study and also help with time management. For example, if you know you have 50 multiple choice questions to complete in 90 minutes, you know you can take your time during the exam to scope out any tricks and double-check your answers. But if you know you have a 100 multiple choice questions to complete in 90 minutes, you’ll have to really know your stuff because time will be up in the blink of an eye. I recommend taking any practice tests that are available to you so that you can get a feel for what 50 or 100 questions in 90 minutes looks like and so you’re not shocked and panicking on test day.
3) Know the Material Covered
Your professor likely won’t give you a study guide of all the things you have to study but if they do, cherish the gift that has been bestowed upon you. Study whatever is on that guide while keeping in mind the type and length of exam. Even if you’re not given an explicit list, take a look at your notes for concepts and key words that your prof went over in detail. You can be sure those concepts will be tested.
The next two tips are to be used over the duration of your course. If you’re studying last minute, don’t worry, the last two tips are just for you.
4) Make Notes Throughout Your Course
Making notes before each class will help you understand the course material and lectures better. It also makes studying a lot easier since your notes should basically be a condensed version of your textbook. As an added bonus, regular note-making will also help you with any assignments you may have.
5) Study Throughout Your Course
This tip came to me during one of my courses that had pop up quizzes counting for 30% of our grade. 30% guys! I absolutely hated it at the time but it actually kept my mind sharp and agile for exam day. Because I had to study each week, studying for the exam was so much easier because I already had most of the concepts stuck in my brain. If you’ve got the time and will power, I recommend studying or reviewing course material regularly so that you’re not cramming during exam time. (This step is easier if you’ve already done number 4, just saying ;))
So, in a perfect world, we would all probably follow tip 4 and 5 and never have stress or anxiety over exams. But in this world, I know most of you probably have jobs and internships and other commitments that keep you from so much as opening your textbooks each week. That’s okay, I get it. Below are two tips that I used to help me when I had limited time to study.
6) Study the Main Topics
If you’re pressed for time (like you only have one night), you have to prioritize what you spend your time studying. I would scan through all my notes and write out all the main topics and several points about each main topic. Study those and uh, hope for the absolute best.
In the future, if you know you’re going to have limited time to study, I’d knock out a bit each day. For example, I focus on a couple themes each day or at least write out what I need to study.
7) Get some rest
There is no point staying up all night studying just to miss your exam the next day or fall asleep during it.
These are my tried and tested study tips. I hope they work as well for you as they did for me. And remember, if you look beyond the horizon that is your exams, you’ll see nice things like Netflix and ice cream waiting for you.