Take smart notes.
- Write down key points and facts the teacher may emphasize or write on the board during class. Keep a glossary of definitions in your notes to help you make study materials later like flash cards.
- Make sure your notes are organized by subject and legible!
- If you feel that you’ve missed something in class, ask your teacher afterwards to go over your notes with you.
Plan your study time.
- Allot a certain amount of time to each subject. You may need to spend less time on material you feel more comfortable with, and more on more challenging subjects.
- If your test is on Friday, don’t wait until Thursday night to study. Go over materials several days before the test. Breaking your studying up amongst several days eliminates the mental and physical stress of cramming.
- Most people can concentrate well for about 45 minutes at a time. Take a 15 minute break if you feel yourself losing concentration or thinking about other things. Stretch your legs, have a snack, listen to a few songs. Then go back and start studying again.
Plan your studying based on the type of test you need to prepare for.
- Multiple choice tests tend to focus on facts, dates, and important names. Flash cards can be helpful in remembering key definitions, names, and details.
- Essay based tests tend to focus on a few broader, but important subjects. Make sure you can grasp each concept the teacher talked about in class. Some essays connect multiple theories or subjects you have learned about in class. Have a basic understanding of these and how they connect.
- An open book test doesn’t mean you don’t have to study. It is important that you review, ORGANIZE, and make sure your notes are legible. This way you won’t spend your entire test taking session looking for facts in obscure places or trying to read that scribble you wrote down weeks ago. If you are able to use your textbook as a reference during the test, you may want to write down important page numbers or quotes and where to find them.
- Math tests usually consist of open ended questions that can be answered by using equations or other skills you’ve learned in class and by doing homework. The best way to study for this type of test is by doing numerous practice problems from your textbook or old homework assignments. Make sure you are comfortable using each equation or method you’ve learned in class.
Work with a study buddy.
- Sometimes working with another classmate or group of classmates can help you catch notes or things you may have missed otherwise. Use flashcards to test each other with memorization, correct each other’s math equations, and/or teach each other from your notes. Your classmates may be able to help you grasp concepts that you need extra work on. Teaching someone else what you’ve learned can serve as a valuable study tool.
Take care of yourself.
- Get enough sleep. Studies have shown that students who are well rested when taking a test do better than those who are not. Your memory recall and ability to remain focused is much improved when you get at least 8-9 hours of sleep before a test. (link to sleep page)
- Remember to eat! Keep your body fueled up to get through the test! You need energy to be able to focus and remember your studying. Eating breakfast replenishes your blood sugar, improving your mental abilities and mood just in time for your test. (link to nutrition page)
- Try to relax. It is easy to be overwhelmed with studying, papers, classes,and other commitments that require your time. You will be able to think more clearly if your mind is not going at a million miles a minute. (link to stress page)
- Exercise…going for a walk or jog can help clear your head and help refocus and re-energize your body. (see Satisfying Your Sleep)
Yoga or meditation… Even if you don’t consider yourself the most flexible person, doing a series of stretching exercises can reduce physical stress on your body. Yoga often times involves meditation as well… another way to help clear your head and refocus.
- Vent… talk to your friends or family about what is bothering you or stressing you out! Getting thoughts out of your head can help you refocus.
- Journal… if a listening ear is not available, another way to vent is through writing. Journaling about your thoughts can be a therapeutic way to relieve stress.
- Indulge in small comforts…treat yourself with a small comfort or two to make you smile. Enjoy a warm cup of hot chocolate during a study break, make time to watch your favorite show, take a warm shower or bath to relax your body.
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