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20 Quick Tips for Successful Exam Preparation

(Curated from various sources)

There are always various activities that can be done separately or combined in enhancing one's experience. Herewith, there are few guidelines respectively outlined to serve as a practical reference.

1. Give yourself enough time to study

Make a study schedule that fits your way of studying and do not leave anything for the last minute. While some students do seem to thrive on last-minute studying, often this way of partial studying is not the best approach for exam preparation. Write down how many exams you have, how many pages you have to learn, and the days you have left. Afterwards, organize your study habits accordingly.

2. Make sure your study space is organized

Make sure you have enough space on your desk to spread your textbooks and notes. Ensuring that the room is sufficiently bright and your chair restful enough are also points to consider. Pay attention to details that can distract you and remove them from your study space. Make sure that you feel comfortable in your study space and that you are able to focus. For some individuals, this may mean complete silence, while for others listening to music helps. Some of us need complete order to focus, while others like to study in a more cluttered environment. Make sure your study space is friendly and pleasant so that you can fully concentrate.

3. Use flow charts and diagrams

Visual aids can be especially helpful when revising study material. At the start of a topic, write down everything you already know about the subject. Closer to the exam, transform your revision notes in a diagram. In that manner the visual remembrance can aid to your readiness considerably when taking the exam.

4. Practice on old exams

One of the most effective ways to prepare for exams is to practice with an old version of previous exams. Also, an old test will help you see the format and formulation of the questions and it will be good for you to know what to expect but also as a worthy practice for measuring the time you need for the actual test.

5. Explain your answers to others

With the help of your family and friends, you could excel on your exam. Explain them your reasoning for why you have answered a certain question in a certain way.

6. Organize study groups with friends

Study groups can help you get the answers you need and finish tasks faster. Just make sure the group is focused on the subject and they are not easily distracted.

7. Take regular breaks

Regular breaks are needed for the brain to regain its focus. It is not the best tactic to study long hours because long-term retention of knowledge is almost impossible. The most important part of studying is to develop a routine that fits your study style.

8. Snacking on healthy food is good for the brain

You should not eat unhealthy food while you are studying. Keep your body and brain fit by choosing natural, fresh and vitamins rich food that is good for you and would improve your concentration and memory.

9. Plan the day of your exams

Check all the rules and requirements for the exam. Plan your route and the time it may take you to reach your destination - then add on some extra time. You do not want to arrive late and deal with even more anxiety.

10. Drink plenty of water

While studying for exams and even during an exam, it is advisable to drink water. Remaining hydrated is vital and adds to your overall positive mood.

11. Ask Questions and Request Help When You Need It.

Talk to classmates who clearly master the material and see if they'd be interested in helping you study. For many people, teaching is a great way to solidify their knowledge, so this would be a win-win situation for both. Don't be afraid to ask classmates or friends who have already succeeded in the class to help you study for finals.

If your course features teaching assistants or tutors, take advantage of their availability to ask questions. Approach them before or after class, or visit them during office hours.

Instructors have regular office hours to ensure that they are available to students. If your schedule conflicts with the instructors' office hours, send e-mails to set up alternate times. Instructors are there to help you understand the subject, and by asking questions you show them that you care about the material as well as your grade.

12. Become Involved From Day One.

Keeping up with all readings and assignments throughout the semester will minimize the time you need to prepare for finals. Attend class punctually and regularly. While you may be able to borrow a friend's notes if you miss a class, this will never compare to being consistently present.

13. Don't Just Study Hard - Study Smart.

For each subject, be sure to make a list of the course materials and the chapters that you've covered in the course. Consider how difficult each chapter or type of material was for you and write your evaluation next to it. You can use labels such as easy, somewhat difficult or extremely difficult; this will help you determine how much time you should spend on each chapter or area. It is also useful to study the difficult parts first; in this fashion, you will have more time before the exam to address particular difficulties or areas you really need help with.

14. Study with a Friend or Group.

Do not wait until the last minute to form study groups. Early on in the semester, approach classmates with the idea of forming a study group. It is ideal to have at least three people in case one person backs out, but not more than five since larger groups often turn difficult to coordinate. Organize your study groups by doing a few practice sessions early to go over class notes and areas that should be covered. Everyone in your study group will feel ahead of the game with an early start. Knowing that study group members depend on each other is a great method for reducing stress and increasing your motivation to study. In the case of FNU courses and programs that can be fully completed online, you can use the course forums to organize and coordinate study groups.

15. Don't Cram - Start Early.

Do yourself a huge favour and make a habit of start studying early on in the semester. Spend at least one hour per week reviewing class notes. Highlight all the areas that are important, and look back at the syllabus to narrow down the key areas you'll need to get a handle on. By simply going over all your class notes, you'll get a good overview of the specific areas you should start studying. This will also provide your mind with a good summary of everything you've been learning this semester.

16. Make a Plan and Stick to It.

Make a commitment to spend at least an hour a week per class to focus on the final exam. By setting aside enough time now, you will be preparing your mind for the final exam and everything else that is ahead. If you come across material that you have questions about you will have plenty of time to get answers from your instructors. By reviewing early and often, you'll simultaneously prepare for finals and midterms.

17. Spend Time Studying for the Tests that Matter Most.

Not all final exams and papers are weighed the same. Take a look at the syllabus of each course you are taking and assess how you are doing overall in that course. Make sure you know what percentage each paper or final exam is worth to your grade. This will give you some perspective on how much time you should designate studying for each class. Final exams are not always deal-breaker elements of a course; in fact, some instructors prefer to assign the same weight to all tests so that students do not feel overwhelmed towards the end.

18. Take Appropriate Care of Your Health.

It is extremely important to maintain good health in order to do your best in school. Exercise regularly and set aside time to take breaks from studying and working. Eat healthy foods to keep you energized and focused. Stick to a regular sleep schedule; this is particularly important in the days and weeks preceding finals week. Pulling all-night study sessions can easily result in low grades because being tired will significantly affect your attention and comprehension. Make it a point to relax with friends regularly and participate in non-academic activities to avoid getting burned out.

19. Respect Your Personal Habits and Abilities.

What do you have to do to be your best? This may involve several aspects:

  • What time of day are you more focused? If you are bright and fresh in the morning, then this is the best time for you to study. However, if you are a night owl and find more energy after dinner, this is when your brain is ripe to soak up information. Respect how your body clock works and use it to your advantage when studying.
  • How much studying do you really need to master the material? Do you start to zone out when study sessions last more than two or three hours? If this is the case, schedule more frequent sessions that last shorter amounts of time. However, if you do your best and really get rolling after an hour or so, schedule a whole day away from other distractions so you can concentrate in full and progress.
  • Do you study best alone or with a group? By testing yourself or simply re-reading the material? Try various methods and see how they work for you, then be sure to stick to them in order to really do your best.

20. Don't Stress.

Rather than being worried and stressed, be proactive and calm. Plan well, structure your time appropriately and believe in yourself. Listen to good music. It really helps.

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