Studying for Exams

Studying for exams is not difficult if you approach it correctly. Remember that you should start preparing for your exams on the first day of classes. Be strategic in your note taking, attend all of your classes, read ahead and make sure you know the areas in which you are having problems so that you can ask questions in class, during your professor's office hours or your TA's. Knowing what you don't know can save you a lot of time in the long run.

Exam Preparation Tips

Answering long answer questions requires a lot of preparation and a thorough understanding of the material. Make sure you identify what your professor is asking of you. Are you supposed to analyze? Compare? State your opinion? Explain? The first step is to really understand the questions before trying to answer; once that is achieved you can start to develop a plan which includes a thesis statement and supporting arguments. Don't hesitate to use sketches and diagrams to get your point across. Remember to be clear and concise.

Multiple choice questions requre recognition of the correct material and test your memory and reasoning. Reviewing the material multiple times prior to the exam is key. The material tested could be definitions, theorems and key words as well as problem solving. If the correct answer doesn't immediately jump out at youl, eliminate those that are unlikely and go from there. Also, sometimes other questions can help you to answer a multiple choice question.

Scheduling Time During Exams

Plan ahead! After your last midterm or about a month before exams you should be starting to review and scheduling in additional time for it. The more you review ahead of time, the less cramming is necessary right before your exam. If you need help making a study schedule, make an appointment with a mentor to discuss your options and have some help.

Reviewing Through 'Cheat' Sheets

Download the generic calculus review sheet that some of our math students have used in the past to help prepare for their first-year calculus course. You can create a sheet like this for any class that requires you to use a lot of formulas, so come into the Centre and we can tell you how best to use it. It only takes a minute or two to jot down the most important things that you need to know from each section of your text or from your lecture slides. Write each formula out every time you are required to use it so that you can clearly see your steps when you have to review.

Basic Study Tips

  • Do not cram the day before an exam, but spread out your studying so that you give your brain time to fully absorb all of the information
  • Study in one hour intervals, and then take a 10-15 minute break to relax
  • Plan out a regular study area. This conditions your brain to being used to studying there, and you can get into “study mode” much faster
  • Study when you are wide awake. Everyone has their own personal clock, so choose the time of day that best suits you
  • Study in a quiet area with no distractions

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