Before you know it, exam time will be here once again. For many students, this is a time of stress and worry. After all, scoring well on your exams, or not, can have huge implications on your education and your career.
Fortunately, there is no need to panic. Instead of worrying check out these stress-free tips for passing your exams with flying colors.
Start a ‘Things to Know’ Journal at The Beginning of The Semester
Learn how to identify things that are most likely to appear on your final exams. Then, as you find them, write them down in a separate notebook or section of your existing notebook. If you don’t have time to do this right away, just mark the information with an asterisk or other indicator and copy it into your ‘things to know’ journal later. Here are a few hints for recognizing items that will likely be on your exam:
- It’s Covered in Other Tests During The Semester
- It’s The Topic of Written or Other Large Assignments
- The Instructor Indicates That Something is Crucial or Very Important
- It is Highlighted in The Textbook in Some Way
- The Topic Came up Frequently in Class Discussions
Even if you didn’t keep a journal to start with, you can make one from your textbooks and existing notes.
Join a Study Group
Discussing academic topics with other people is a great way to increase the chance that you will remember and understand what is being covered. It also encourages a bit of self-discipline. After all, you don’t want to be the person who shows up to study group unprepared. Add in a bit of a socialization factor, and study groups are a great option for people who struggle to stay on task when studying alone.
Use an App to Keep Your Notes Organized
Studying is much more efficient when you don’t have to dig around for lost notes. If the organization is a struggle for you, consider using a note taking the app to keep things organized into different categories. Many students choose Evernote for this because it has many features and works for group projects as well. If you’d like, you can use your note taking the app for your things to know journal.
Engage All of Your Senses When Studying
Depending on your learning style, simply reading the material may not be the most effective way for you to learn. In fact, retention and understanding can increase the more senses you involve in the process. So, instead of just reading, try something new. Look up videos and podcasts related to your subject matter and study those. Use a voice recorder to record yourself reading your notes. Then, listen to them while you take a walk. If you have a study partner, make flashcards and read them out loud to one another.
Get Enough Sleep
Yes, you have a lot of studying to pack in, but missing sleep is no way to do it. Instead, try to find other ways to get more study time. Remember that the time you spend exhausted at three in the morning cramming for your exams is probably doing you more harm than good. Try to make sure you are as well rested as possible.
When Studying Tackle The Toughest Subject First
You’ll have the most mental energy when you begin a study session. Take advantage of that by tackling your tougher subjects first. Then, as your night continues to move onto increasingly easier things. This way, when you are getting tired at the end of the night, you’ll be covering things that just need a bit of review.
Break Big Writing Tasks Into Smaller Chunks
Sometimes, in place of a traditional final exam, your instructor may assign a term paper or other large writing assignment. Don’t try to tackle this all at once. You will be much less intimidated if you break your note taking, outlining, and writing down into smaller tasks. Think about the SAT test that you took in high school. When you were doing your prep, you covered one section at a time until you had mastered the whole thing.
Human and electronic distractions can seriously eat into the time you should be spending studying. If your dorm room is too noisy and you keep getting interrupted by your roommates, consider heading off to the library or a cafe. If it’s social media and other sites that are an issue, consider getting an app to lock those down temporarily. The fewer distractions you have, the more you will accomplish.
Eat a Light Breakfast on Test Day And Carry Snacks
Don’t sleep in and skip breakfast on exam day. You’ll just be distracted and hungry, and that’s no way to ace an exam. Instead, eat something light in the morning. Then, carry light snacks with you if you’re allowed to do so. Even a bit of gum or hard candy can help you stay alerted. In fact, if you chew the same flavor gum while you take your exam that you did while studying, you might remember things a bit better.
Don’t Study Things You Already Know
This is a very common mistake for students to make. They know they have an exam coming up in biology, for example, so they study everything that was covered all semester. The problem with this is that it means giving equal time to what you already know and what you don’t quite understand.
Try categorizing things like a traffic light. Red means that you have very little understanding. Little means you mostly get it. Green means you have it mastered. Then, when you study focus mostly on the red items and then the yellow items.
During The Exam Answer All of The Questions You Know First
Don’t waste precious exam time pondering over things you are unsure of. Instead, focus on answering as many questions as quickly and correctly as possible. If you don’t know the answer, skip it. Move on to the questions that you do know. Then, come back and attempt to answer the other questions, but not before considering the next tip.
Ask if There is a Penalty For Guessing
Depending on the type of exam you are taking and guessing might or might not be a good idea. Sometimes you are penalized extra for guessing, other times, you are better off taking a stab even if you don’t know the answer. Ask your instructor before the test so you know what to do.
Double Check Your Work If You Have Extra Time
If you finish with extra time to spare, don’t just turn your exam in! Take a few extra minutes, and double check your answers. This doesn’t mean wasting time worrying about answers that you are are unsure of. Just check for things like sloppy mistakes or illegible writing.
Use Short Factual Sentences on Written Questions
Unless your teacher is specifically testing your writing skills, don’t worry about being too elaborate on written questions. Instead, focus on short, factual sentences that provide proof that you understand the subject matter.
Keep these tips in mind when exam time rolls around again. While other students are stressed and struggling, you might just find that you sail through these important college tests.