Henry W. Noe ’22
As end-of-semester exams start to roll around, some students begin to wonder how they will be able to adequately study for everything in time for a big exam. They oftentimes ask themselves, what are the most effective ways of studying? What types of studying work best for different types of subjects? Every student possesses the will to study, however, the manner in which to study is honed after a number of exams are taken and various types of methods are tried.
To begin with the test prep, creating a review sheet of all of the material on the exam is the best way to go. In order to attack each concept one-by-one, knowing the major points of what your professor has said on each subject is a smart way to compartmentalize every facet of the exam. An important skill that plays into this is the ability to concisely outline notes. Abstracting just the main ideas from weeks worth of lectures can be a challenge but focusing solely on the recurring points and how the various main ideas interweave with one another are great places to start.
For larger exams, meeting up with classmates and forming small group study sessions help to condense large swaths of material into very manageable subsections. Additionally, in these groups, study tips can be shared within the group which can serve to facilitate later studying. If someone is unsure about a certain concept or question, they can ask the group and everyone will gain from listening to a potential answer in lieu of waiting for time during office hours. These study groups formulate bonds between classmates which oftentimes are not made amidst the daily rush of a student’s academic calendar. Having the group for support and as a means of encouragement is a strong tool for any student’s study schedule.
Memorizing, albeit arduous, is one of the quickest ways to get information mastered. Thankfully, there are a number of different ways to go about memorizing information for an upcoming exam. Creating flashcards is the traditional route and has stood the test of time for a reason. With the technique, students can quickly correct themselves if they make an incorrect identification. Online quizzes give students the same benefits of using flash cards while also having the possibility of creating a timer or having the site grade for accuracy, simulating real test conditions.
The key to understanding material, in addition to memorizing facts and formulas, is doing practice problems. Completing problem sets, accessing and completing old exams or practice exams, and looking through textbook problems are the ultimate key to understanding the material being tested on. The goal from this tactic is that, from doing so many problems, the different techniques being tested on will become second nature to the student, thus making the material on the exam more readily mastered.
Ultimately, each test will garner a unique and different approach for the greatest chance of success. Some exams may be more memorization based while others may require more practice problems to be done. Regardless of the approach, exams necessitate diligent study and lengthy preparation in order to best do well.