As I make my way through college I have found that it becomes more and more important to be able to study effectively. There are too many things going on for you to waste time doing things that don’t help you improve your grades.
It’s important to note that everyone learns differently. Even if one method works perfectly for your roommate/friend/that kid who sits next to you in Comm, it may not work for you – and that is totally fine! It may take trial and error to find the strategy that works for you but don’t get discouraged. Once you figure out the best way to approach preparing for exams your life will be a whole lot easier – and less stressful!
Preparing for Exams
I know it hurts to hear but test prep really does start every day when you walk in to class. Are you always running late or skipping out early? Do you bring your laptop “for note taking” and end up online shopping? Are your eyes always glued to your phone?’
If you aren’t paying attention in class you are starting yourself off on the wrong foot. In most classes, a significant amount of exam questions come from the material highlighted in the lecture. Your professor might even drop hints about things to focus on and facts that will be on the test! Make a note to yourself in the margin when you hear phrases like ‘this is important’ or ‘a question like this might show up on your exam’, it’s a little cheat sheet that can help you boost your grade.
Remember that professors are creatures of habit! Pay attention during Test 1 as other tests will most likely follow the same format. If you did well – keep up the good work! If you struggled, try to think of where you got tripped up!
If your professor loves definitions – get memorizing! If most of the questions are about the application of the information you are learning then you really have to understand the material more in depth.
Don’t second guess yourself! More often than not, your first answer is the correct answer (unless it’s a tricky, multiple choice where the answer can be A, or B, or A and B.) Definitely go over the test before you turn it in but try not to doubt yourself. You studied hard and you’ve got this!
My personal favorite method of studying is flashcards. Lots, and lots of flashcards. I usually use more than 100 per test. Yes, this does seem excessive – but hey, it works! When you get your study guide write each bullet point on the front of an index card. Then haul out your textbook and your notes and write down everything you can find on each topic. If you find something that has multiple categories, say stitch classes, make another index card for each category do you can keep everything straight. Remember to draw yourself diagrams if needed, I promise you will thank yourself when you have to identify needle types from a blurry, enlarged, and frankly unclear diagram.
Get some rest the night before. I know it may seem like a good idea to stay up all night and cram but studies have shown that getting a good night’s sleep can actually help you remember information better than staying up to study longer.
Finally, put things in perspective! I know these exams seem pretty daunting. After all they are standing between you and your well-earned break! But remember that losing a few points here and there isn’t actually the end of the world. I struggle to believe that one too, but I promise it’s true. Worst case scenario – you bomb the test. However, going in and getting a 50 will be way better for your GPA than just blowing it off and getting a zero.
I hope you found these tips helpful! Leave a comment and let me know what your favorite study methods are/were and maybe I can learn something new as well! Good luck with exams and may the odds be ever in your favor!