One of the biggest challenges a college student faces is the ever-dreadful class exams. A college semester involves a lot of different things to balance such as attending classes, doing homework, exercise, laundry, and having time left over for a social life, let alone prepare for an exam. However, there are ways to do it without making your life even more hectic and actually make exams seem less stressful. It all starts with exam preparation. NOTE: This blog is not about what to do during the few days before exams, but some basic things you can do to be proactive about exams all semester long.
The first key in exam preparation is to attend class. Students that attend class on a regular basis are less likely to fall behind in the course work, which in turn means they are more likely to have better grades on their exams. “Every class you attend, assignment you complete, and contribution you make, will help prepare you for any questions that may appear on an exam in the future” (Study Smart). Some instructors will allow a small number of absences before an attendance grade is negatively affected, but every absence has the potential to negatively affect an exam grade.
Attending class goes hand-in-hand with exam preparation because some of the material on an exam may not be covered in the book. Professors are known for pausing during a lecture to talk about a related topic that goes along with the material being covered. This gives students extra information to add to class notes that you can’t find in your textbooks or class PowerPoint. And anything that the teacher says in class is fair game on a test. That is why attending class on a regular basis will help in the long run. You will have more exposure to the material and not end up trying to learn it all just days before the exam. Repetition is important, especially for students with LDs.
The second tip for exam preparation is to hold on to your syllabus. It might seem like a simple piece of paper, but it could mean the difference between getting an A or a C in a class. The syllabus can not only help you pay attention to what is going on in the class, but it can also help create a timeline as to when exams or projects take place. Some syllabi can also be used as a mini study guide. Looking over the topics that are covered on the syllabus will tell you what materials will be on the exam in an organized way you can use to study.
Another huge tip related to exam preparation is to keep all documents, papers, quizzes, and study guides throughout each semester. Do this for two reasons. The first is that keeping all papers will help you be more organized and make it easier to create a more detailed study guide at the end of the semester for the final. The second reason is that most professors do not write their exams from scratch. A lot of the questions students see on the tests are from previous quizzes and study guides. Keeping up with papers can be a hassle, but I promise you they will be valuable, if not vital, when studying.
Finally, the last key to effective exam preparation is to do everything in a timely manner. Do not wait till the last minute to study. It will only hurt your grade and GPA because it is hard to learn and understand all the material at once. If you wait, you will only be adding unnecessary stress to your life. Simple things such as homework and practice quizzes are a student’s secret weapons. They may seem like a pain at first, but the more you participate in these activities, the better prepared you will be when it comes to the test. Consider every practice quiz, review of lecture notes, re-read chapter, homework activity, etc. as exam studying because these ongoing interactions with your class material can have long-term positive effects. Your grade will reflect how hard you work, so if you take these tips to heart and use them, you will easily master the art of studying.
“How to Prepare for a College Exam.” Study Smart. Sholarships.com, n. d. Web. Web. 7 Dec. 2012.