Friday, 11 April 2014

How To Study For Exams

I actually enjoy tests.  Sure, I find them stressful -- sometimes really stressful -- but I usually do well and I do enjoy how satisfying it feels to show my knowledge and succeed in something.  It feels really good to get a good mark -- even a decent mark -- and be proud of something I've accomplished.

Read the textbook.
This is a hard one for a lot of people, including me, but it's really important to read the textbook for your course if you're going to do ensure your success on the exam.  Here's the thing: someone decided that the textbook would be a good idea.  While it's clearly important to focus on what's been said during the class and going over your notes is absolutely effective, the textbook will give you more insight and it will probably help you.  Seriously.  Try it.

Do practice questions.
You don't even need to "do" them.  Just look at them.  Think about them.

Write it out.
Making notes is really effective when you want to get the information to stick in your head.  One of my favorite studying techniques is to write out all the pertinent information that I really want to make sure I remember when test time comes around.  Writing things out helps you have everything in your own words and makes you think about what you're learning so it's more apt to stay with you.  Also, it's a lot more effective to physically write things out than to type, since your brain responds well to the motor memory of having physically used your hands to write.

Flashcards are really usefully memory aids, if you like quizzing yourself and have to memorize a lot for your test.  I love cue cards personally, but there are also a lot of great online flashcards that you can customize to your course material.

Talk it out with a friend.
This is one of my favorite techniques when I'm feeling like I know the material but need help to solidify it.  Talking with a friend not only helps you because you get time to practice explaining the concepts, but also exposes you to new ideas that might enhance your knowledge.

Look back at old tests.
Don't underestimate this one.  Seriously.  No matter how well you did on your previous tests, it's been a while, and it's a good idea to look at them and make sure you remember how to answer those types of question.