Taking exams is stressful, but you can make it easier by improving the way you study. Studying for your exams effectively and efficiently will keep you from feeling unprepared, and it will set you up for success!
Setting the Foundation for Later
1- Review your syllabus. Figure out when all of your exams will be and how much of your grade they are worth. Put these dates on your calendar or planner so they don’t sneak up on you!
Plan review sessions beginning at least a week in advance of each exam. Ideally, you’ll do several mini-reviews well in advance, gradually increasing the time in which you study, rather than trying to cram everything into one mega session the night before the test.
2- Pay attention in class. This seems like a no-brainer, but actually paying attention while you’re in class will help you immensely once exam time comes. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’ll just “absorb” knowledge; be an active learner. Try sitting at the front of the class, this will make it easier to focus.
Listen carefully, because teachers often give hints like “The most important thing about this topic is…”. Or they may just place emphasis on certain words and issues. This is the real key to testing well. The more you absorb the information early on, the less studying you’ll need to do.
3- Take good notes. This is easier said than done, but learning how to take good notes will help you immensely once it comes time to study. Write down everything your teacher writes on the board or puts up in slides. Try to record as much of what the teacher says as possible, but don’t allow taking notes to distract you so much that you forget to listen.
Review your notes daily, right after class. This will help reinforce the information you just learned.
4- Make studying a part of your habits. Too often, it’s easy to view studying as something that only gets done at the last minute in a huge overnight cram session. Instead, try setting aside some time every day to study. Scheduling it just like another appointment or class may help you stay motivated to continue the habit.
5- Ask about the exam format. Ask your teacher what format the test will be in, how it will be graded, if there are any opportunities for extra credit, and if they would be willing to talk to you about highlighting in your notes, what the most important broad subjects will be, etc.