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Studying for Exams

What to know before you start to study:

  1. What type of test is it?
    1. Objective - multiple choice, true/false, matching or a combination.
    2. Essay - short or long answer, or sentence completion.
    3. Problem solving.
    4. Combination of the above.
  2. What material is to be covered?
  3. How many questions (approximately)?
  4. What is the time limit?

If the information above is not given by the instructor when he/she announces the test, ASK. This information is valuable to the way you study. Also, ask the instructor for old exams you can use for your review.

Studying

  1. Be sure you have read all the material to be covered and all the lecture notes before you begin your serious studying.
  2. Plan what you will study and when you will study it.
  3. Each review session should be limited to one hour. Take breaks of five to 10 minutes between hourly sessions.
  4. Try to predict exam questions. If it will be essay, try to answer your predicted questions.
  5. Study in a group only if everyone has read the material. You do not gain much when you must "tutor" someone else or if other students are not prepared.
  6. Prepare summary sheets to study and eliminate rereading the textbook.
  7. Review for objective tests by concentrating on detail and memorizing facts, such as names, dates, formulas and definitions (know a little bit about a lot).
  8. Review for essay tests by concentrating on concepts, principles, theories and relationships (know a lot about a little bit).
  9. For problem-solving tests, work examples of each type of problem. Work them from memory until you get stuck. Study your guide problem and begin working it again from memory, from the beginning. Do this until you can work the entire problem without referring to your notes.
  10. On the day of the test, do not learn any new materials. It can interfere with the knowledge you have already learned.
  11. Try not to discuss the test with other students while you are waiting to begin. If you have studied, you do not need to be flustered by others making confusing remarks.
  12. Try to consciously make yourself relax before the test begins.
  13. After the test is over, forget it! Do not discuss it and do not look for answers you might have missed. Concentrate on your next exam.
  14. Keep in good physical condition by not ignoring food and/or sleep requirements.

Reference:

Paul D. Nolting, Ph.D., Winning at Math, 1997

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