Quick Tips - Preparing for Exams
1. Separate your initial learning (when you focus on increasing your understanding of material) from your studying (when you improve your memory of what you know).
2. Start preparing early, or start now.
3. Be informed about the exam
- Topics to cover, percentage or value of test or exam, format, length, location, aids permitted
4. Be strategic in studying
- Identify key topics. Focus on material you don't know
- Set targets and dates for completion
5. Select, organize and review key material
- Organize material to distinguish between main topics, sub-topics, and details. Look for relationships, connections or patterns
- Summarize it using charts, tables, mind maps or webs, quantitative concept summaries, or annotated notes depending on the type of material
- Review, aka study, to build your memory
6. Make a study plan, based on number of hours you think you'll need
- 3 hour blocks (with a 10 minute break every hour) work well, followed by long break (1.5-2 hours) and do it again - - 9 hours max. a day!!
- Distribute study hours across several days, studying 2 or 3 courses a day
7. Match your depth of study with the test format, and then "teach" someone else
- Multiple choice tests can tap details, plus understanding connections and concepts
- Essay exams can analyze themes, patterns, your interpretations
- Quantitative problem solving exams assess conceptual understanding, plus fast and accurate computations
8. Write a practice exam, under the same conditions (duration, exam aids)
- Make up your own questions, based on learning objectives of the course
- Use old exams and assignments, review questions from text
9. Be strategic in writing the exam
- Take home exams require evidence and evaluation, not just description of facts
- Answer questions you know first, to maximize grades and gain confidence
- Include your essay outline, or diagrams in problem solving exams, for part marks
10. Use relaxation techniques to calm your mind and body, and permit clear thinking.
11. Go to the Writing Tests and Exams at University module for more strategies