Strategies for Exams
When you are prepared for a test, you can turn it into an opportunity to show what you know! Start preparing for exams a little bit at a time and use these strategies to reduce test anxiety and improve performance.
- Review your course outlines, learning objectives and past tests to get a better sense of what and how you should study for each course.
- Will there be an emphasis on material not yet tested, on class discussions or supplemental readings?
- If you’re unsure about the format of the exam, check the syllabus first and then ask the professor.
- Attend a Learning Skills workshop to learn about studying differently for different types of tests.
- Understand the different terms used in short answer questions
- Learn some multiple choice strategies
- Use your past test to prepare for your next midterm
- Don’t cram. The same amount of time divided up, and spaced out over as much time as you have, will produce better results.
- University is more like a marathon than a sprint. Your exam study time should be sustainable, and taking breaks allows for memory consolidation.
- Aim for a 50 minute study session followed by a 10 minute break or, if you’re still being productive, a 2 hour study session then a 30-60 minute break.
- Throughout the term, aim to work on your most difficult course during your most productive time.
- For final exams, use your more relaxed schedule without classes to try to study around the same time as your exam (morning, afternoon or evening).
- Spend your study time effectively. Research shows that using self-testing and elaboration are far more helpful than re-reading either the text or lecture notes.
- Use practice questions – from the professor or IA, your SQR study questions, the textbook or lab manual.
- Keep as much as possible common between study and recall – similar space, setting, sound levels, and objects. If you won’t have a phone on your table or music playing during the test, try not to study with them.