Exam Study Strategies that REALLY Work!

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Exam Study Strategies that REALLY Work!. A Student Services Workshop. Why Can Studying for Exams Be Such A Challenging Task?. It can be overwhelming to study 5 months worth of material for one test Sometimes we are exhausted by the end of the semester - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • A Student Services Workshop

  • It can be overwhelming to study 5 months worth of material for one test

    Sometimes we are exhausted by the end of the semester

    The exam can be worth a fairly high percentage of our final mark in the course

    We often have 1-3 other exams we also need to be studying forwhere do we find the time?

    We dont teach students how to study, we assume they know how best to do this, for every individual subject area

  • Effective study skills must be practiced in order to improve

    Its not enough to think about studying you actually have to do it AND then reflect on how effective it is.

  • Begin studying no less than 30-60 minutes after a meal

    Never study within 30 minutes of going to sleep

    Prioritize! Make a list of what you intend to study and prioritize the list

    Study no more than 45 minutes at a time, and then take breaks

    Take breaks away from your desk and do something different

    Try to continue your daily habits as usual (dont drastically reduce your sleep, eliminate exercise, or overeat)

  • SQ3RSurvey get the best overall picture of what youre going to study before you do it

    Question ask questions to reinforce your own learning

    Read actively read over the material and be alert to main ideas, bolded terms, and key understandings and details

    Recite recalling and then orally or through writing communicating the information make connections

    Review re-reading, summarizing key points, testing yourself, asking final questions, mind mapping

  • QUESTIONINGWHY? Concentrate on why questions rather than what. Example: why does x = 8?This takes the same amount of time as just reading all your notes, but the difference is THINKING!!

  • EXPLAININGHOW?Focus on HOW to solve the problems or HOW something works.Examples: how do you graph an equation? How does gravity work?This is most effective during class, not right before the test

  • Practice TestGet someone to test youMake up your own testFind test questions in your starters and onlineThis is most effective when you make the questions yourself

  • Distributed PracticeThis mean spacing out the time you studyIf you want to remember something for a year, you should review it every monthIf you want to remember something for 5 years, you should review it twice a yearIf you want to remember it for a week, review it twice a day for a week.

  • Some material for your courses will simply require that you memorize the information. This comes easy to some people, but not all. Here are some strategies that you can try:Acronym: ie. PMAT for phases of mitosis (Prophase, Metaphase, Anaphase, Telophase)

    Acrostic: i.e. Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally stands for the order of operations in math (Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction)

  • Rhyme Keys: memorize key words that can be associated with numbers, example- bun = one, two = shoe, three = tree etc. Then come up with visuals to remember a list, ie. Cheese on a bun, a cow with shoes on etc.)

    Method of Loci: imagining a list of items in a location you are familiar with and the events that are taking place

    Image-Name Technique: invent a relationship between the name of something and one of its physical traits (i.e. curly-haired Shirley Temple) Chaining: creating a story where each word or idea you have to remember cues the next idea you have to recall i.e. a story where a character in a Shakespeare play bumps into four other characters as he goes for a walk

  • Getting OrganizedPutting time into organizing notes and other papers for the course

    Reading with PurposeNot glossing over reading material but actively searching for important ideas and thinking about them while you read. LOOK FOR CONNECTIONS BETWEEN IDEAS.

    Getting the Main IdeasQuestioning yourself about the main points from the notes, assignments, or chapters you are reviewing

    Extracting Important DetailsConsidering key information that support the main ideas, and thus, give them more meaning

    Taking NotesBolding, underlining, and categorizing information that you are study to give it more meaning. ORGANIZE!!!!!!

    Outlining Textbooks/ Novels/ Supporting MaterialsMaking notes on key main ideas, supporting details, and connections between concepts from different print sources

  • Reading information out loud without writing it down

    Glossing over notes without proving you know it (by teaching someone else, by writing it down from memory etc.)


    Reviewing the material only one time

    Studying with someone else unless you are equally committed and focused

    Staying up really late or pulling an all-nighter

  • Are you unorganized and have incomplete notes from the class?

    Have you been asking questions along the way to ensure understanding?

    Do you budget your time wisely and start studying far enough ahead of time?

    Do you consider ways to make the most of your studying time?

    Do you recognize the time and effort that will be required to be adequately prepared for the exam?

    Do you evaluate priorities during exam time to make the exams your focus?

  • When deciding where you should do your exam studying consider the following:Make sure the environment is moderately comfortable (furniture, temperature), but not too comfortable!!

    Work somewhere where you will be free of distractions (phone, TV, friends, etc.)

    Try to use a space that is YOURS only and doesnt have to be shared with other family members

    Keep the study space organized with a specific place for paper, pens, books etc.

    Have everything you need to study with you before you sit down so you dont waste time looking for things

  • It will not be possible to allocate your time effectively if you dont have a schedule to keep you focused and realistic about what you need to accomplish

    The time taken to create the schedule is well worth it it will save you much time that could have been lost to disorganization, stress, and poor planning

  • Get an outline for each of your tests including what material will be covered, the length of, and format.

    Complete all of the preparation that will be required for you to study effectively BEFORE you sit down and actually study (i.e. complete missing homework, correct tests, organize notes in order etc.)

    Realistically plan for the amount of time that you think will be required to review the material for the course at least twiceand then double that amount of time

    Decide which responsibilities and wants will need to go on hold while you are studying.

  • Begin to study for each exam AT least a week before it will take place to have plenty of time to ask questions, review etc.

    Give yourself reasonable breaks (15 min).

  • At times when you may be trying to study for examsYour mind may wander from one thing to anotherYour worries may distract youOutside distractions may take you away from your studies before you know itYou may find the material boring, difficult, and/or not interesting

  • Here are some strategies students can use to focus during study time:Study in a set place that is naturally free of distractions

    When your mind wanders, tell yourself, now is when I must study

    Stick to a routine, realistic, and effective study schedule (SAME TIME AND PLACE EVERYTIME!)

    Focus on your GOALS with the material you are studying, each and every time

  • Change your study topics every 1-2 hours to keep things interesting

    Vary your study strategies dont try and study in the same way for more than an hour or so

    Take regular scheduled breaks and enjoy them!

    Give yourself rewards for even small achievements with your studying

  • Here are some helpful tips when writing an objective exam:

    Survey the entire exam first to see what kinds of questions are being asked, length etc.

    Quickly budget for how much time youll spend on each question

    Read over each question carefully

    Answer easy questions first to save time and build confidence

    Pick out key words in the questions to ensure you dont misunderstand

  • Circle any questions you have difficulty with so you can go back to them at the end of the exam

    For multiple choice, read each option separately and determine whether each statement is true or false GUESS IF YOU DONT KNOW!

    Leave yourself at least 15 minutes at the end of the exam to review your answers and ensure you didnt make any silly mistakes

  • Here are some helpful tips when writing an essay exam:Do any initial preparation the teacher allows for (i.e. novel review, outlining different topics)

    Read over the entire exam first

    Quickly budget for the amount of time youll be able to spend on each question

    Number questions exactly to match the question numbers

    Outline your answer to the question before you begin writing

  • Pay attention to key words that indicate what you are being asked to do

    Start with an intro and end with a conclusion for each question

    Answer questions directly dont beat around the bush

    Leave time at the end to check for spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, clarity of ideas etc.

  • Exam anxiety can be viewed in two different ways:Poor coping with the inevitable stress of an exam BEFORE it takes placeORA strong emotional reaction of fear that interferes with thinking clearly DURING the exam

  • Students who have exam anxiety often report the following symptoms:Memory blocks or blanking out on things that you have studiedFear of failing before the exam is even writtenPhysical symptoms such as rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, sweating etc.Lower reading comprehensionPoor attention and inability to concentrate

    The key to dealing effectively with exam anxiety is to work on what you have control over (how you study, what you study etc.) and not worry about what you cant control (kinds of questions, how other students perform etc.)

  • Be Prepared EarlySet up a study schedule at least 2 weeks before your exam

    Sleep WellMaintaining a regular sleep schedule helps reduce stress and increase performance

    Keep the same caffeine and sugar intakeGreatly increasing either of these substances can actually impair brain functioning by throwing off your bodys metabolism

    Learn relaxed breathingWhen you get stressed, taking some slow, relaxed breaths can help you think clearly again

  • Stop studying at least 1-2 hours before bedtime the night beforeStudying right up until the last minute increases your anxiety and will impair your ability to sleep

    Review main themesGo over main ideas or concepts in the material to reinforce that you do understand the big picture

    Have a plan before the examAs part of your studying, think about how you will approach the exam and what you will do when you run into trouble

    Aim to do your bestRecognize and turn off your negative self-dialogue focus on the task at hand and simply aim to do your best.

  • Wake up at a reasonable time so you can get ready at a leisurely pace and have breakfast

    Carry your notebook to the exam but dont open it will have it there if you absolutely need it

    Stay away from other stressed-out students who may get you worried before the exam

    Admit to yourself that you will not know all of the answers on the examand thats okay!

    Try the memory dump strategyWrite down everything you can think of on a piece of scrap paper after the exam has begunand then start writing the exam

  • Studying is an important component of being prepared for your final exams

    Any sort of studying is inherently stressful, but there are ways to manage it to reduce the stress

    Your approach to studying will vary depending on the subject matter youre studying (see subject-specific suggestions in your package)

    The keys to effective studying are all about planning its a good idea to start that process NOW!

    Good luck on your final exams!