Frequently Asked Questions About Studying For Exams

Whenever exam season rolls around, I ask myself the same questions about studying. So I figured I should answer some of them in a blog post.

How should I study?

Review actively. Use as many of your five senses as possible. Reading the textbook is more passive than writing notes. Having your friend quiz you is more active than listening to recorded lectures. You get the idea. The more you involve your senses, the better you’ll remember dense material.

When should I study?

Try to study during or around the hours your exam will take place. This primes your brain to think about psychology at 9 a.m. on a Monday or morphology at 5 p.m. on a Saturday.

Where should I study?

Learning different subjects in separate environments can improve retention or at the very least, reduce confusion. So study German in the kitchen and Latin in the office. Ideally, you’d review in the same room you’ll be writing your exam in. Context dependent memory is real.

How do I remember what I studied?

You don’t.

Try to condense your notes instead of rewriting them. Even if you aren’t allowed to use a cheat sheet, create one. After all, condensing fifty pages of information down to five forces you to select and understand key concepts. In terms of recall, writing something down is better than reading the same thing over and over again.

Happy studying. Then again, when is studying ever happiness inducing?


Studying For An Exam In One Day—Successfully

This post should really be called something like ‘cramming for an exam in one day’, but cramming has such a negative connotation attached to it. Besides, studying makes you sound more studious. And smarter.

I plan to study (cram?) for an exam today. I’m sure some of you have done it before too. Blame bad time management. Blame poor prioritizing. Blame whatever you like.

I have one day, actually a little less than that to master everything I need to know for my exam tomorrow. And here is how I plan to accomplish that goal:

Studying the most important.

I don’t have time to learn all everything that happened in America from the 1600’s to the 1900’s. I only have time to cover the most important things. So I plan to do just that.

Covering the things I don’t know.

Out of the most important material learned, I will cover the topics, people, ideas, etc., that I don’t know as well. There is no point going over subjects I know a lot about like slavery (I’m doing a paper on it) since I know the matter inside and out. I should really spend my limited time on things I have little to no knowledge about like the Watergate Scandal…I don’t even know the year this happened.

Going over what my teacher discussed in class. 

This is why attending class and listening to your teacher is so important. Sometimes they will drop hints about what will be covered on the exam or how some of the questions will be formatted. Trust me, this helps. If you know the important stuff and the material you don’t know along with having an idea of what your exam will be about, you’ll be way ahead. And I plan to use everything he told the class to my advantage. I won’t be studying everything in the 1000 page plus textbook nor will I read all the sheets in my binder. Frankly, I just don’t have time for that. Besides, that would not be an efficient way to spend my time. What I will do is look over what the exam is centered on, mostly the Civil Rights Movement as well as wars like the one in Vietnam.

I may just regret choosing to blog or spending more time to study. Then again, the exam is worth 15 percent of my final mark. This blogging is worth more than a meagre grade.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you how successful I was in studying/cramming using the advice I outlined above. For now, I will hope, pray, and study.


15 Things I Learned From Writing My Law Exam

Let me tell you, I learned more writing that one exam in two hours than I did in one five-month semester. But for the sake of this post, I’ll write in second person point of view.

  1. Whatever you do, don’t panic.
  2. Between writing neatly and finishing on time, the latter is more important.
  3. Under a time limit, you cannot beat around the bush.
  4. Pardon the redundancy, but getting to the point might be the difference between passing and failing.
  5. Repeating yourself (i.e. saying the same things over and over again) does not make you seem smarter than you really are.
  6. Over-studying is much better than under-studying.
  7. Feeling prepared makes you feel more relaxed.
  8. Do your best to focus on your own paper during the exam.
  9. Watching others either creates a sense of ease or a sense of unease; a risk you most likely don’t want to take.
  10. Having a heap of knowledge is useless if you cannot apply your wisdom accordingly.
  11. Trying to be fancy won’t win you any extra points.
  12. You’d be surprised at how much you know (or don’t know).
  13. Failing an exam will not result in the sky falling or the world ending.
  14. Despite your best intentions to do well, sometimes teachers will throw you a curve-ball from left field.
  15. Cramming forces you to memorize but in most subjects, a deep understanding of the material is more important.

Can I just say I’m guilty (see I’m applying my law vocabulary seamlessly here) of 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15?  Yep that’s right: I panicked, beat around the bush, repeated myself, under-studied, focused on things aside from my exam, watched others like a fool, tried to be fancy, and crammed as much of the course as I possibly could into my tiny head. Oh yeah, I’m probably guilty of number 13 too.


13 Effective Study Techniques I Use

With exams right around the corner (for most semester-ed high school students), I’m surprised I managed to dig up an old post (that was first created 5 months ago in August).

I realized this stuff is much more relevant now than during the summer. Even if this doesn’t pertain to you at the moment (full-year guys and gals), it might sometime in the future.

  1. I divide my study time into small sections spaced over the course of a week (if possible).
  2. I ensure I have all the necessary notes before beginning study sessions.
  3. I balance my time as equally as possible with all my courses.
  4. I use the resources I have to my advantage.
  5. I determine what topics/concepts/ideas are most likely going to be covered on the exam or test.
  6. I make full use of study questions, study guides, or previous exams/tests/quizzes if available.
  7. I try to predict possible questions or problems I will be tested on and attempt to answer them accordingly.
  8. I review and relearn, not redo.
  9. I study actively by asking critical-thinking questions.
  10. I choose not to obsess over organizational activities or trivial details.
  11. I apportion my studying time, as well as my exam writing time, according to how much each component of the test is worth.
  12. I memorize what I need to memorize, understand what I need to understand, and explain what I need to explain.
  13. I stimulate the real thing before taking the exam or test.