2 Why Can Studying for Exams Be Such A Challenging Task? It can be overwhelming to study 5 months worth of material for one testSometimes we are exhausted by the end of the semesterThe exam can be worth a fairly high percentage of our final mark in the courseWe often have 1-3 other exams we also need to be studying for…where do we find the time?We don’t teach students how to study, we assume they know how best to do this, for every individual subject area
3 How Do Students Make Exam Studying An Even MORE Stressful Experience? They have unorganized and/or incomplete notes from the courseThey have not been asking questions along the way to ensure understandingThey don’t budget their time wisely or start studying far enough ahead of timeThey don’t consider ways to make the most of their studying timeThey don’t recognize the time and effort that will be required to be adequately prepared for the examThey don’t adjust other priorities during exam time to make the exams their primary focus
4 The Keys to Effective Studying Effective study skills must be practiced in order to improveIt’s not enough to “think about” studying – you actually have to do it and then reflect on what you could be doing better
5 General Exam Study Tips…Tested and True! Begin studying no less than minutes after a mealNever study within 30 minutes of going to sleepPrioritize! Make a list of what you intend to study and prioritize the listStudy no more than minutes at a stretch, and then take breaksTake breaks away from your desk and do something differentTry to continue your daily habits as usual (don’t drastically reduce your sleep, eliminate exercise, or overeat)
6 Creating the Right Environment for Studying When deciding where you should do your exam studying consider the following:Make sure the environment is moderately comfortable (furniture, temperature)Work somewhere where you will be free of distractions (phone, TV, MSN etc.)Try to use a space that is YOURS only and doesn’t have to be shared with other family membersKeep 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 don’t waste time looking for things
7 The Value of a Study Schedule It will not be possible to allocate your time effectively if you don’t have a schedule to keep you focused and realistic about what you need to accomplishThe 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
8 The Keys to Effective Exam Study Scheduling Obtain an exam outline for each of your courses including what material will be covered, the length of, and format of the examComplete 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 twice…and then double that amount of timeDecide which previous commitments will need to go “on hold” while you are studying (i.e. reducing shifts at work, no baby-sitting etc.)
9 The Keys continued…Make every hour count in your schedule – time at lunch, before school, after schoolBegin 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 (15-30 min) and try to maintain as “normal” a schedule as possible in terms of sleep time, eating time etc.
10 Proven Study Strategies SQ3RSurvey – get the best overall picture of what you’re going to study before you do itQuestion – ask questions to reinforce your own learningRead – actively read over the material and be alert to main ideas, bolded terms, and key understandings and detailsRecite – recalling and then orally or through writing communicating the information – make connectionsReview – re-reading, summarizing key points, testing yourself, asking final questions
11 Proven Study Strategies continued… Getting OrganizedPutting time into organizing notes and other papers for the courseReading with PurposeNot glossing over reading material but actively searching for important ideas and thinking about them while you readGetting the Main IdeasQuestioning yourself about the main “points” from the notes, assignments, or chapters you are reviewingExtracting Important DetailsConsidering key information that support the main ideas, and thus, give them more meaningTaking NotesBolding, underlining, and categorizing information that you are study to give it more meaningOutlining Textbooks/ Novels/ Supporting MaterialsMaking notes on key main ideas, supporting details, and connections between concepts from print sources
12 Memorization Strategies 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)
13 Memorization Strategies continued… 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 placeImage-Name Technique: invent a relationship between the name of something and one of it’s 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
14 The Problem with Concentration At times when you may be trying to study for exams…Your 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
15 Concentration Strategies Here are some strategies students can use to focus during study time:Study in a set place that is naturally free of distractionsWhen your mind wanders, tell yourself, “now is when I must study”Stick to a routine, realistic, and effective study scheduleFocus on your goals with the material you are studying, each and every time
16 Concentration Strategies continued… Change your study topics every 1-2 hours to keep things interestingVary your study activities – don’t try and study in the same way for more than an hour or soTake regular scheduled breaks and enjoy them!Give yourself rewards for even small achievements with your studying
17 Student Study Strategies that DON’T work Reading information out loud without writing it downGlossing over notes without “proving” you know it (by teaching someone else, by writing it down from memory etc.)Highlighting texts or novelsReviewing the material only one timeStudying with someone else – unless you are equally committed and focusedStaying up really late or pulling an all-nighter
18 Types of Exams: The Objective Exam 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 you’ll spend on each questionRead over each question carefullyAnswer easy questions first to save time and build confidencePick out key words in the questions to ensure you don’t misunderstand
19 The Objective Exam continued… Circle any questions you have difficulty with so you can go back to them at the end of the examFor multiple choice, read each option separately and determine whether each statement is true or false – GUESS IF YOU DON”T KNOW!Leave yourself at least 15 minutes at the end of the exam to review your answers and ensure you didn’t make any silly mistakes
20 Types of Exams: The Essay Exam 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 firstQuickly budget for the amount of time you’ll be able to spend on each questionNumber questions exactly to match the question numbersOutline your answer to the question before you begin writing
21 The Essay Exam continued… Pay attention to key words that indicate what you are being asked to doStart with an intro and end with a conclusion for each questionAnswer questions directly – don’t beat around the bushLeave time at the end to check for spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, clarity of ideas etc.
22 Coping with Exam Anxiety 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
23 Exam Anxiety SymptomsStudents 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 concentrateThe 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 can’t control (kinds of questions, how other students perform etc.)
24 Tips for Coping with Exam Anxiety Be Prepared EarlySet up a study schedule at least 2 weeks before your examSleep WellMaintaining a regular sleep schedule helps reduce stress and increase performanceKeep the same caffeine and sugar intakeGreatly increasing either of these substances can actually impair brain functioning by throwing off your body’s metabolismLearn relaxed breathingWhen you get stressed, taking some slow, relaxed breaths can help you think clearly again
25 Tips for Coping with Exam Anxiety continued… 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 sleepReview 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 troubleAim to do your bestRecognize and turn off your negative self- dialogue – focus on the task at hand and simply aim to do your best.
26 The Day of The Exam…Wake up at a reasonable time so you can get ready at a leisurely pace and have breakfastCarry your notebook to the exam but don’t open it – will have it there if you absolutely need itStay away from other stressed-out students who may get you worried before the examAdmit to yourself that you will not know all of the answers on the exam…and that’s okay!Try the “memory dump” strategyWrite down everything you can think of on a piece of scrap paper after the exam has begun…and then start writing the exam
27 In Summary…Studying is an important component of being prepared for your final examsAny sort of studying is inherently stressful, but there are ways to manage it to reduce the stressYour approach to studying will vary depending on the subject matter you’re studying (see subject-specific suggestions in your package)The keys to effective studying are all about planning – it’s a good idea to start that process NOW!Good luck on your final exams!