Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Helpful Tips for Effective Final Exam Preparation

It is that time of the semester when final exams are fast approaching and there is a strong possibility that much of that final grade that you are striving to achieve is dependent on this one final task. Below are some strategies to help you prepare for this critical, but hopeful time:

• Make sure all of your text readings are complete and review the end of chapter reviews and summaries. Consolidate all of your readings and lecture notes and select which topics are relevant to the exam material. It may be helpful to categorize this information so that you have a mental label to refer to when you see material that is specific to these areas on the test.

• Review course objectives from the syllabus to help you stay focused on the overall goal of what is most important to take away from the course. For example, a course objective in a history class might be to apply historical facts that set precedents to today’s world events. Additionally, review all previous course assignments, quizzes and tests as a guide of what cumulative information may be on the exam as well as how exam questions are likely to be worded.

• Be aware of the weighting of the final exam in terms of your overall course grade. Use this target as a way to plan your study periods over the time leading up to the exam. If you know the exam is worth 30% of your grade, ask yourself how often and how frequently you will need to study to ensure you get the grade needed to achieve the final course grade that you are seeking. If you know you need to get a “B” or higher on the exam to get an “A” in the course, that might entail studying for 2 hours per day for that course (that number might be higher the longer you wait to being preparing for the exam).

• Record the amount of time and the time during the day in which you will need to study in a planner or calendar. For example, if you study best in the evenings, you might want to schedule your study time from 7-9 pm after you get home from work. Be prepared to cancel unnecessary commitments when necessary such as volunteering for an event where your assistance is not critical.

• Consult with your professor about obtaining a study guide or practice test questions or collaborate with peers to study together and develop potential exam questions based on previous exams and course material. Interaction with peers in a discussion-oriented framework can go a long way to reinforce your learning.

• Determine what types of test questions to expect based on headings, sections, chapter summaries, the instructor’s reasoning style in explaining the material, questions you can ask yourself that may better help you recall the information such as how can this concept relate to a real-life situation happening in my life? Think about how the course is structured to point out the important concepts and what you really need to know to help you better anticipate test questions.

• Plan the earliest time that you can study based on the exam due date. Plan to study at least 2 weeks in advance to ensure optimal preparation prior to the exam date.

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