... but don't freak out, we have your back!
If you are a freshman, or even a senior, that familiar word "exam" sends a shiver of dread down your spine. You start breaking out the highlighters and post its, and getting stuck in the classic I-know-I-put-the-notes-in-here-but-its-gone-on-an-adventure-and-this-backpack-seems-to-never-end dilemma. Once you discover those notes in a very obvious place you swear you already looked in, read the rest of this post.
WHAT KIND OF LEARNER AM I?
Everyone has their own strengths. If you are serious about acing your exam, it would be very helpful to discover your learning style. If you already know, move ahead and read the tips. If you don't, take this short quiz:
HOW DO I BEST STUDY?
- Videos and Power points
- Annotate/Mark Up the Page
- Talk/Logic your answers out loud
- Read aloud
- Explain concepts to yourself as if you are holding a conversation
- Use word associations (this sounds like this and means basically the same thing) to remember
- Rewrite Notes
- Paraphrase Notes
- Create Bulleted Lists
- Turn charts into written summaries
- Write questions on the material and answer them
- Study with others
- Study in short blocks of time
- Use examples when creating study sheets
- Have something in your hands (pencil, stress ball, play-doh) to keep from getting restless
GENERAL TIPS BEFORE AND WHILE YOU STUDY:
1. PUT. THE. PHONE. DOWN. You won't get anywhere when the group chat is blowing up. Put your phone in another room and just allow yourself to take some time and really focus. If you need to time something, use your iPad or turn off your cellular capability. Remember, with great wifi comes great responsibility.
2. PREP YOUR STUDY SPACE. That means:
• Avoid annoying and disruptive sounds (Pets, Siblings, Vacuums, Washers)
• Being alone. People, even when quiet, are still a presence that can unnerve or distract.
• Getting all your materials ready. You cannot afford to waste time and potentially distract yourself by going off on the great hunt for a notebook or glue stick or binder every five seconds.
• Keep your space uncluttered. Most students do the stereotypical movie thing where they expand their study space until the room is littered with papers. Just take what you need and prepare it in stacks by subject in one place. That way, you are not digging into your backpack and pulling out useless things. When it comes to making study sheets, you can use this step to only get out notes you need to make those.
• RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO MULTITASK. DVR the newest The Walking Dead episode or realize it will always become available sometime after it airs so you can catch up. This next sentence may be hard for many (including myself) but the music. MUST. BE. OFF. Classical is the only exception where your mind is not struggling to jam out or getting confused with thoughts of both Trig and random lyrics.
3. PLAN, PEOPLE. I cannot stress the importance of planning. If you have five days until your math exam, use four to break up little portions of what will be on there, and the day before should be spent doing a couple practice problems and reviewing study sheets.
4. TAKE A BREAK WHEN YOU NEED IT. On top of planning how to break up each subject, figure out how you will do breaks, and what you will do during those breaks. I highly recommend not going to your phone, because five minutes can turn into two hours of endless scrolling on (insert social media name here).
• It can be estimated that you should have a five minute break for every twenty minutes you study. However, you can break that into 20-5-20-5 or 40-10-40-10. If you feel confident in a topic, you may want to do 40-10 so you can get through it and have longer recuperation. If you are struggling, take the 20-5 route. This allows a cool down for the end of those twenty minutes when you are getting frustrated.