Top 5 exam study tips

From Student Academic Success Services

Jessica Chubb (Student Academic Success Services), with Julia Manoukian - November 30, 2012

Time to buckle down with those books! (Danny Abriel photo)

With exams starting on Thursday, Dec. 6, we approached Student Academic Success Services for a few tips to help you manage your studying — not that you haven’t started studying already, of course. (Right?)

1. Manage your time effectively: Careful planning and good time-management skills are essential. Make sure you give yourself enough time to study so you’re well prepared by the time your exam rolls around. Get on top of things and stay on top. Set up a regular study schedule and stick with it. Remember that the day has 24 hours, so use them wisely.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions: Talk to your instructors. Ask them about the areas of study that will be emphasized on the exam. If you need clarification on certain topics, ask your instructors if you can meet during office hours to discuss them.

3. Review carefully and frequently: Get the big picture by reading lecture notes, handouts, problem sets, and laboratory questions and reports carefully. Then integrate all of these sources of information into your notes.
• Take detailed notes and identify important concepts and topics.
• Outline the main ideas, concepts, and information on a sheet that can be easily reviewed many times. This will make it easy to remember key concepts as well as the information related to them.
• Organizing the material will help you see connections and get the material into your long-term memory.
• But don’t spend too much time simply making your integrated notes look good — there’s little satisfaction in being the neatest "C" student in the class.

4. Look at past exams from your class: These are indispensable study aids. They reveal the format of the exam and allow you to judge the scope of the material and the depth of coverage. Use them to pinpoint your own strengths and weaknesses by taking the exam. But don’t assume that the old exam accurately reflects the actual content of your upcoming exam. It doesn’t. It does, however, give you a valuable glimpse at what your instructor thinks you should have studied.

5. Eat well before the exam: Being in good physical and mental condition is important for effective test preparation. You need the energy to help you focus, but avoid junk food that will make you groggy.

And, of course, don’t forget to leave a little time to review your exam after finishing it.

If you’re looking to meet with a study skills coach, make an appointment during office hours, or meet with the coordinator for one-on-one support. In Halifax, call 902-494-3077 or email Jessica.chubb@dal.ca. In Truro, call 902-893-6672 or email msani@nsac.ca to make an appointment.


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