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Exam Preparation and Performance Jennifer Zimmerman Assistant Director Academic Resource Center Mercer University

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1 Exam Preparation and Performance Jennifer Zimmerman Assistant Director Academic Resource Center Mercer University

2 When Do You Start Studying for an Exam? On the first day of class! How?  Read your syllabus with a fine tooth comb  Write in your exam schedule on your semester planner  Stay on top of your coursework from that day forward

3 Never Stop Studying for the Exam  Do all your work thinking about how you can make it easier to study for your next and final exams  Design your notes so that they can easily be reduced into useful study summaries  Listen in class so you know exactly what will be on the test  Take time to generate questions that will help you recite and reflect on the material to be tested

4  Record – make notes legible and complete  Reduce – write questions, cues, and vocabulary in cue column; prioritize with silver dollar system (Pauk, p. 114)  Recite – test self with verbal or written exercises based on cue column and summary  Reflect – expand and analyze implications; generate searching questions  Review – utilize summary to locate selected topics for repetitive recitation Use Cornell Method Notes and Follow these Study Steps:

5  Steps Read Convert to a question Test  Benefits Involved Feedback Motivation  Distinctions More than re-reading Cultivates recall over and above simple recognition Recitation as a Rehearsal Strategy

6 Create Summary Sheets that:  Fold over to display questions and cover up answers (or use index cards) – repetition and recitation  Focus on silver dollar prioritizations, summaries, and some cue questions - reduction  Relate to questions that are of particular interest to you – reflection Motivation Conceptual organization  topical  categorical Pauk, p. 355

7 Visual Organizers  Use your own words and representations  Organize to reduce information to a manageable amount without losing conceptual depth  Prepare tools for rehearsal strategies CARDS (Nist & Holschuh, pp. 225-8) Concept maps and charts Compare/contrast charts Flow Charts Time lines Fishbone maps Spider maps Word maps Frayer models Color coded notes

8 Memorization Techniques  Association – link new information to prior knowledge or experiences  Rehearsal – use different learning modalities  Relevance – make the information meaningful to your personal beliefs or to a broader understanding of the course  Mnemonics – if you are an auditory learner, use songs instead of simple lists or words  Clustering – give in to the 7 plus or minus 2 rule and find logical groupings that streamline what you have to memorize  Self-testing – practice putting yourself in a testing situation

9 Be Prepared to Get the Most Out of a Study Group  Legible notes and summary sheets can be shared  Pre-defined questions will expedite group study sessions Questions written at the time that material is first learned will be more accurate memory refreshers Comparing questions will allow the group to quickly identify different and/or erroneous interpretations of the subject material

10  Partner testing involves teaching, a more reflective method than recitation Verbal elaboration promotes long term memory retention Explanations require the speaker to understand the topic being discussed Study group partners must expect each other to operate at a high level of thinking Why Study in Groups?

11  Find out first: Format – objective or subjective Value and length Time and place it will be given – make-up policy Topic, chapters, and readings covered Focus on class lecture, readings, and/or lab Open-book or closed-book Cheat sheets allowed Special tools allowed or required Who will grade the exam Will partial credit be given Will spelling and grammar mistakes count against grade Anticipate the Test

12  Start studying 3-4 days prior to the test with the following completed Reading Study materials such as summary sheets, concept cards, timelines, etc. List of important concepts that will appear on the test Study plan spelling out  how  with whom  when  where Prepare Deliberately

13 Give Yourself a Healthy Edge  Relax the night before the exam Do not cram Get at least 6 hours of sleep  Get up early (as much as 3-4 hours) the day of the exam Shower, eat breakfast, and take a brisk walk to focus your concentration Review notes, books, and study materials

14  Take a pen, your notes, and books to the testing site so you can study  Take your watch if you prefer to use it to track your time  When you receive the exam, take a deep breath and relax  Read, analyze, and follow test instructions  Write legibly, use a pen, and leave extra space so that the grader can read your exam easily Start the Test on the Right Foot

15  Scan the entire test Check content Circle key words and underline important phrases Gauge relative values of questions based on assigned point values  Answer questions you are sure of first Only write down answers that are correct so you will return to uncertain questions later Build your confidence and let your memory trigger recall of other information Approach the Test Carefully

16  Calculate how much time you will need to review the test  Spend the appropriate amount of time on each question based on point value  Move on and finish the test and come back later to questions left unfinished Pace Yourself

17  Pay attention to interrelated statements and questions that could help you recall information for other questions  Answer every question even if you have to guess Guess only after you have answered every question that you can Use common sense in your guesses, but also stay on topic Don’t Give Up on Any Questions

18  Save enough time at the end of the exam to review your answers Make corrections and additions in the extra space you left around your answers Check that you have understood the questions correctly Check that your answers are accurate and complete Take a Final Look at Your Work

19 BehaviorOlympic Gold Medalist Master Test Taker devises plan based on a specific goal e.g. gold medal in 100 meter e.g. “A” on Psych 101 test breaks tasks down trains differently at different stages concentrates on pieces for study works persistently toward goal does one thing toward goal each day does one task for an “A” each day

20 BehaviorOlympic Gold Medalist Master Test Taker takes advantage of all opportunities does not miss workouts attends all classes and reviews warms uparrives early and runs practice laps prior to workouts, practices, and the event arrives early and rehearses material before classes, reviews, and the test

21 BehaviorOlympic Gold Medalist Master Test Taker identifies weaknesses and takes corrective action e.g. staminae.g. note-taking learns from the competition (other participants) watches other runners and learns techniques watches other students and learns new study skills

22 BehaviorOlympic Gold Medalist Master Test Taker is nervous before big performance recognizes that nervous energy can be channeled into physical energy recognizes that nervous energy can be channeled into mental alertness maintains healthcares for self mentally as well as physically cares for self physically as well as mentally maintains self- esteem realizes that winning is not the only thing realizes that grades reflect how one takes tests and do not define the person

23 Evaluating Your Performance  What strategies did you use?  How much time did you spend studying beyond your normal schedule?  When did you begin preparing for the exam?  Did you stick to your study plan?  Did you earn the grade you were aiming for?  Did anything outside of your preparation affect how you performed?  Was there anything unexpected on the exam?  Do you understand how your exam was graded and how you can improve on the next exam?  If you master the material on this exam, will you be adequately prepared on these topics for the final?

24 Center for Advancment of Learning, Learning Strategies Database. Muskingum College © 1998 Nist, Sherrie L. and Jodi Patrick Holschuh, Active Learning: Strategies for College Success. Needham Heights: Allyn & Bacon, 2000. Pauk, Walter, How to Study in College. 7 th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001. References

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