Monday, April 9, 2012

Revving up for finals

It's exam time! (did you just groan? It's okay...we've all been there). But exam time means it's time to shine in your classes for one last time before you go on break. 
Exams typically cause the universal student-groan because they takes work. Often a lot of work; but doing exams right means the difference between stressful work that leads to mediocre grades and an invigorating, albeit challenging, workload that leaves you feeling satisfied after an exam-well-done.

So below are three tips to ensure your exam time is a satisfying acceleration and not a crash and burn.

Study Tipping Tuesday - Exam Edition 

1. Study by yourself first - then engage in a study group a few days before the exam to review and test what you know.

Getting ready for a test is like getting ready for any performance. Musicians have to practice by themselves - then they get together to rehearse as a band (I admit, all I know about being in a band comes from what I learned from Jesse and the Rippers on Full House, but, I consider them an authentic source). 

I danced in high school and a little bit in college and it worked the same way. If I didn’t work on the choreography by myself, I was constantly distracted by what others knew, copying their movements, and not really knowing if the movements were ingrained into my brain/body. 

Then when I came back to dance with the team, I could see where I still needed to work, and where I was good to go. 

Groups are for review – they should test what you already know. So study on your own and use that study group time as a stress-free session with friends to go over the test material.

2. Create your own practice tests.

Okay I know, why would you create another test to take? I promise you - this is the single best thing you can do to ensure satisfying exam grades and a focused and engaged study-time.

Creating your own practice tests helps you engage with the material, anticipate what's going to be on the test, and gives you an opportunity to test yourself and see what you still need to focus on. 

There are tons of ways to approach this.

You can start with learning any terms you have to know for the test. Quizlet is a great tool for that – and it has an app you can use on your phone.

I also suggest making some practice multiple choice and short answer questions – they can help you flesh out what a real test might look like. Here are some more tips for creating a practice test.  

3. Study a little bit every day, never more than 50 minutes at a time, taking 10-minute breaks every hour.

The worst mistake students make when it comes to exams is all-nighters. Start studying for exams now. It will help you maintain your grades and your sanity.  

If you're relying on caffeine to get you through exam time then you aren't doing it right. It should definitely be a challenge, but it shouldn't break you down or cause you immense stress.  

Because never forget – you control what you know, how you prepare, and how you will do – you just have to take the steps to make sure that you stay in control, and get started early. Don't let the exams control you. 

And most importantly – on behalf of everyone who misses summer vacation – finish the year on a high-note so that you can enjoy that feeling when you turn in your last exam with the unique confidence and satisfaction that comes from knowing you got a good grade -- and knowing that you earned it.   

Good luck!

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