You may already be doing some of the things I'll suggest here, and some may not apply to your situation. You decide what works best for you. Here are a few things that you might want to try.
- Review your notes after each assignment or group of class assignments. This will help reinforce your understanding of the content and will help you remember things better as you approach an exam later.
- Plan your time before the test. Try to schedule all the events that have a set time for the week or weeks before the exam (for example, your work schedule, any family outings you have planned, campus classes you must attend, etc.). This will help you focus on how much “real time” you have available to study. Then, determine how much time you need to study for each exam, and block that time on your calendar. Consider it an appointment with yourself!
- During your study time, plan breaks that will help you relax and re-energize. Maybe watching a movie or a light TV sitcom, or eating a snack, might help you unwind. Sometimes, a 15-minute nap does the trick, though an extended “nap” may just be another way to avoid studying! The important thing is that you limit your break time as well as your study time. It is very easy to procrastinate, get too involved in the diversion, and get off track. Conversely, studying for long periods can become counterproductive as well. When you study for too long with no break, you can lose focus and learn less effectively.
- Exercise your body and your mind. Move around during your break, stretch as you study, take some periodic deep breaths – the goal is to keep your blood circulating and take in oxygen.
- Get enough sleep: Plan to sleep the number of hours that your body needs, usually 7 – 9 hours a night. For most people, it is a myth that they can function well on a few hours of sleep. Sleep deprivation is, in fact, a way to perform worse on a test. An “all-nighter” is a desperate and risky effort that will probably backfire.
- Study with others: Some students develop study groups which meet at defined times to review and exchange information about the important course content that is likely to be tested. Be sure to set goals and time limits for group meetings or they can just be a waste of time you can’t afford. Use the Cyber Cafe or other Open Forum in your course Blackboard site to find other students in your ELI classes who might want to study together, or ask your professor for help setting up groups.