Many students think if they just re-read their notes from the text and from the class and their textbook that they will do well on their exams but this is false! This is passive and learning is not a passive process, you need to be actively involved in the learning process. So how do you study:
1. Make sure you keep up on the readings in class. I gave you some simple tips in the post I have on how to read a college textbook to ensure you are processing what you read.
2. Attending class is critical! During class time, the information should come to life and you will gain a better understanding of the content. I also posted a piece on how to take notes in class, don’t forget to follow these tips.
3. Reviewing both sets of notes (class notes and notes you took on the textbook while you were reading) immediately after class, this will help you better store and relate to the information. A tip I found useful, is when reviewing these notes, mark topics that can be found on both sets of notes- that’s probably test items.
4. Make a study outline from both sets of notes- this outline should be no more than 1 page (front and back) and here you will put only the information that you think is the most important and things that get to the essence of what you are learning in that chapter.
5. Make flash cards with definitions on them so you can review the definitions very easily anytime anywhere.
You may be asking yourself at this point, why am I writing so much? The answer- writing helps store the information you are learning in your brain and when you are taking the test, you are writing so when you keep writing the information you are actually preparing for the test.
6. Study with a friend or a group. This is an active process where you will be talking about the content. When you share the content you will be placing the content in your own words, which helps you to understand the content better. If you cannot study with a friend, make sure you “teach” someone the information at the very least, speak the content aloud.
7. My biggest piece of advice is that cramming does not work! Storing things in your long term memory takes time, so, study over a period of time, take breaks and make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before.
So many students make themselves nervous about exams even though they are prepared. Think of exams as a way for you to show the teacher what you know and what you still need to learn. Many professors use exams throughout the semester to help gauge how their students are doing BUT more importantly you can use exams to determine what you need to do differently to learn the information.
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