It’s that time of year again, folks. Professors are beginning to distribute the first exams of the semester, and lucky (or unlucky, rather) for us, they’re all within the same couple of weeks. *Insert huge sigh here*.
In high school, some people had easy enough courses that they didn’t have to study much for any tests they had to take. If you’re one of those people, sorry to break it to you, but that won’t fly in college. Tests are hard. They cover more content at a higher difficulty than at least I was exposed to in high school. This past week, I have been studying my butt off trying to prepare for 4 tests. Yep, you read that right. Although my first instinct was to curl up in a little ball of stress and quit everything, I knew that I had to sit down and really work for the grades that I want.
So, on that note, welcome to my brand new course (and there’s not even any tuition!): How to Prepare for Tests 101.
Unit 1: Make A Plan
Before you do anything else, get out your handy dandy planner, calendar, or whatever else you use to keep things organized! Figure out your schedule and plan of action: which tests are when, which are top priority, and how much time you need to study for each one.
As you can see, I have my planner color coded so that tests are written in blue and prep work is written in purple. That way I can quickly glance at it and know what I have to do. It’s important that you disperse your work throughout a longer time frame. It’s psychologically proven that you can’t just cram for a test the night before and expect to remember everything the day of.
Unit 2: Collect Your Resources
Often times, professors will provide you with study guides or reference sheets to help you figure out what exactly you need to study. It’s also important to know if you can use any resources on the actual test day. For instance, one of my professors is allowing us to have a piece of notebook paper to use as a cheat sheet. Another one of my professors gave us study guides as a tool to learn all the information. Whatever your resources are, make sure you utilize them to the best of your ability!
Unit 3: Crack Open That Textbook
Yes, that book that you paid $200 for does come in handy. Chances are, your professor took all the lectures directly from the textbook. This means that the book has supplemental information that may be useful for the test. Plus, reading the textbook helps you to remember the information more than just scanning your notes. Personally, I like reading through the chapters I’m being tested over and writing down important bullet points.
The book should also have this super helpful tool called the “glossary” in the back. Sorry for the hint of sarcasm, but you would be surprised how many people don’t take advantage of these things. Depending on the subject matter, there could also be practice problems to apply your knowledge.
Unit 4: Take Breaks When You Need To
Studying doesn’t have to be complete torture! By no means do you have to do it for hours on end without even a bathroom break. When you’re feeling tired, stand up, stretch, and go get a coffee or a snack. It’s healthy for both your body and your brain. If you need to take a longer break, feel free to. You can only study efficiently when you’re feeling motivated, so if you feel like you’re going to fall asleep, it’s time to put things aside. Just be careful to not get too distracted!
Unit 5: Last Minute Tips
This is perhaps the most important unit in this crash course! Take good notes!
- Studies show that if you chew the same flavor gum when you’re studying and when you’re taking the test, you’ll be more likely to remember the information
- Get a good night of sleep before your exam! You don’t want to accidentally sleep through it because you stayed up too late, and you don’t want to be exhausted and make silly mistakes that you wouldn’t have made if you were completely rested.
- Eat breakfast! You need the brain food!
- Don’t stress over it. Stress does nothing good to us. If you don’t get the best score, it’s not the end of the world. You will have chances to raise your grade.
And that concludes my crash course on how to prepare for your tests! By no means are these fool proof tips, but they’re a start in the right direction. I wish you all the best of luck in your exams and projects, and I hope you all get the grades that you were aiming for!
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