Test Prep: 4 tips to help you study for exams and finals

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Jennifer Brown
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What do you do to study for finals? What about regular exams? Do your methods work? Whether you are a freshman or a senior, finals still are one of the most stressful parts of college for students. All your hard work can depend on how well you perform on this last test. While some courses weigh final exams more than others, these tests are something students need to take their time to prepare for. Here are my tips when studying for not only finals, but regular exams: review your own notes, write key concepts down, create your own questions, and use your professor’s notes or material widgets, if included.

Review your notes early and often

One of the first things I do is review my notes for an exam. However, finals are quite different. Recently, I reviewed all my notes over eighteen chapters for my behavior therapy course, which proved difficult to retain the information.  What I recommend is to periodically review your notes for certain chapters throughout the semester. For example, if your course lists modules with several chapters, review those chapters at the end of the week. For some of my courses, our modules were spaced out every two weeks. After I finished a chapter I reviewed my notes before I moved on to the next chapter. This may be especially helpful when attempting to accumulate all of the information from previous chapters for exams.

Rewrite your notes

Rewriting important concepts and topics is also helpful. This deepens my understanding for the material and how each chapter shared similar ideas. For example, in my behavior therapy course we had a module on exposure therapy. Within this module, I had notes for flooding and graded exposure via imaginal and in vivo techniques. Although these therapies were separated in our text, by writing down outlines of the main topics I was able to clarify the distinctions between each technique and how these techniques were similar to other modalities taught in the course.

Quiz yourself with flashcards

Flashcards take studying to a whole new level! One great tool I began using this past semester was Pearson’s beta testing app called PearsonPrep. As a Pearson Beta Tester, I was able to test automatic flashcards made from my own documents uploaded to the app. I found this app great because it covered specific details that had the potential to be on the final. Personally, I have always had a hard time remembering details from the text, so when I could input my professor’s module summaries into a document and have flashcards from it, I found it very helpful. I was able to have different types of questions regarding the same topic, so I would recall it in different ways, not just by a fill in the blank answer or multiple choice. Likewise, I also found that generating my own questions really helped me remember the material. I suggest students generate their own questions when preparing for exams and their finals.

Winning with widgets

Lastly, when I transferred to the University of Central Florida, some of my professors included material participation as part of the modules. These participation activities usually were in the form of hangman or a crossword puzzle. What I loved about studying this way is that it tended to cover topics or ideas I may have forgotten about. Although the questions may not give enough information to use them exclusively for finals prep,  I used the material widgets in combination of other tools which strengthened my confidence in understanding the material. One benefit about these tools is that you can repeat them as many times as you like to review certain topics or key words.

Studying for finals does not have to be daunting. With the right approach and a plan, you can make studying efficient and fun. I recommend that when studying for finals you review your own notes, write down key concepts, create flash cards and use your professor’s notes or material widgets.


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