Study Strategies: Tests and Exams
Whether you’re going through university exams or are feeling the pressure of evaluations in high school, this is a stressful time of year for all students. If you want to do really well, no doubt you could use all the tips you can get.
Here are three study strategies to keep in mind when preparing for tests and exams.
Plan ahead. If you have a test coming up, make the most of your time leading up to it in order to figure out the best way to prepare. Use a calendar and assign yourself small tasks every few days (e.g. “summary notes for Chapter 1”, “review glossary”). This will ensure that the big, scary evaluation worth a chunk of your final grade doesn’t catch you off-guard; as a result, you’ll do better. This is also a good strategy with which to integrate planning tools you may already use (agendas, to-do lists, etc.).
Tip: For those of you who tend to procrastinate, you can still make good use of this strategy by creating a “Crash Course” list of things to cover in the limited time you have. (That said, procrastination is definitely not a good study strategy, so in the future make sure you leave yourself enough time to study properly.)
Reformulate. Studying straight out of the textbook will get you nowhere (except maybe remembering a couple of sentences word-for-word). Instead, make notes on the material and organize it in your own way. It’s a good idea to formulate lists of key concepts and important things you need to remember, based on (but not just copying) your full lectures and readings. Don’t be afraid to mix media, too: if you like to organize (or if you really need the help), make yourself a study package of raw notes, summaries, flash cards, and whatever else might come in handy.
Tip: Tailor this strategy according to the type of evaluation, as well as the course being taught. For example, studying French parts of speech might make good use of those flashcards, but practice tests may be a better strategy if you’re writing an algebra test.
Study in groups. Before you groan about the horrors of “group-work” assignments (in which one person—maybe even you—winds up doing all the work), consider the fact that group studying can positively influence your test performance. Discussing the material and applying it outside of the classroom will help you remember it better. Plus, study groups offer you an opportunity to help others who don’t know the material as well as you do, which is not just a nice thing to do—if you can teach what you’re doing to someone else, then you probably know what you’re talking about.
Tip: Study groups can have low turnouts, so hold people accountable. Give everyone a task to perform prior to the session (e.g. to take notes on a specific chapter) and check in with them to make sure they’re still involved.
With those strategies in your back pocket, hard work, and a little luck, you’re sure to ace your next evaluation!