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2.3 Studying for the Exam

When a test is announced, be sure to find out what kind of an exam it will be: objective, multiple choice, short answer, essay, maps etc. Make sure your instructor is clear about this. If he doesn't specify this information, raise your hand. You should also know what material is being covered by the exam. If you haven't done all the reading necessary for the exam, then get going. You haven't much time. If you missed a lecture, get the notes from someone whom you trust.

Now that you've done all that, how do you proceed? How do you study for the test? First, look at the syllabus and note all the lectures that are covered by the exam. Next, go through your notes and mark those lectures which pertain to the exam. Next, get all the books that were used in that specified period. Sit down. Relax.

Start with the lecture notes. Read them through date by date (you did remember to date your lectures, didn't you?). Underline or highlight those remarks which your professor specified as important. Organize the lecture in your head. If your instructor used an outline, refer to it while you are reviewing your notes. Rather than memorize everything he said, it might be a better idea to re-write your notes in outline fashion, paying special attention to things you know are important. Depending on the amount of material covered by the exam (let's say five weeks), this ought to take you a few hours.

Next, start looking at your books. If you underlined or highlighted your textbook, now is the time to go back and re-read those passages that you marked. That is, after all, why you marked them in the first place. It's a good idea to have your outline notes next to the text so that you can fill in the gaps in knowledge or elaborate upon your understanding of the material. You treat any assigned monographs in the same way. However, keep in mind that the approach of the monograph is quite different from the general textbook. You need to be much more aware of the author's interpretation. This is most important if your professor intends to include essay questions on your exams. Will he want his own interpretation, the author's interpretation or your own? Be sure you know before you start studying.

Should you study with friends or alone? That's up to you. Personally, I always studied on my own. That has its ups and downs but then so too does studying with friends.

A final word or two: If you have prepared yourself for the exam by knowing what is expected, you will have the confidence to do well. If you are confident about your abilities then chances are very good that you also understand the material. What does this all mean? Study to the point where you become confident. Confidence is everything! What more can I say?

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Copyright � 2000 Steven Kreis
Last Revised -- April 13, 2012
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