Hi! This is Michael and I am one of the Central Penn College Advisors. Having been a student and a teacher, I would like to share with you some of the general test-prep guidelines I have found helpful over the years. While this post is not intended to be a comprehensive discussion on the topic of test-prep, it should get you started!
Before You Begin: Plan a Study Schedule
It is best to begin preparing for exams at least a week ahead of time to give your brain time to digest and sort the material into your long-term memory. Last-minute cramming is more effective for short-term memory retrieval. Locate a comfortable study area conducive to your needs. Identify how many finals you have and which ones you anticipate needing the most time to study for. Set aside time (1-3 hrs blocks) and map out a study timetable for each test. Remember to take study breaks to stretch or exercise, eat wholesome foods, take some downtime, and maintain a healthy personal sleep schedule.
Study Tips and Strategies: Questions to Consider as You Prepare
- Is the exam cumulative or will it only cover the most recent course material?
Sometimes it’s both! Either way it is good to know how much of the course material will be covered on the final. If you’re unclear, ask! Online students can use the general discussion board to post a question for anyone in the class to answer. E-mailing or calling the professor directly with a specific question is highly recommended for all students.
- What is the test format?
Know whether the test will be multiple choice, true/false, essay, short answer, oral, or a combination. If it is an open book test, review the established testing guidelines so you can prepare accordingly. Sometimes you are allowed to prepare a note card for the test. Identify what should be on it. Preparing several drafts will help!
Use any study guides, end of chapter questions, or refer to the course objectives to help you anticipate what the open response questions will be. Craft a few written responses and have someone else read them (a classmate or professor would be ideal). Be sure to practice using academic writing during this process; you may just get to use it on the test!
- Did the professor provide a study guide or review sheet?
If so, take the time to fully complete the review sheets – the earlier the better. Share it by e-mailing it to your professor or a classmate for feedback. If no study guide is provided, I would recommend contacting the professor via email to help you narrow your study focus. For on-ground students, another effective approach is to set up a meeting during a professor’s office hours. Come prepared with specific topics and questions to ask. Consider attending with another student; professors like that! Either way you choose to reach out, your efforts will demonstrate to the professor that you are proactive and motivated to do well.
While studying, be sure to review all previous tests, quizzes, and relevant assignments. Make your own study sheet. Use the course objectives and syllabus to help you organize your studies in alignment with the flow of the course material. Find a study-partner or enlist a friend or family member to quiz you on your prepared study materials. For courses with several definitions and formulas to memorize make flashcards to quiz yourself.
Final Tip: The Moment the Test Begins
As soon as the test starts, write down on a piece of scrap paper all the words, formulas, and concepts you memorized. It will help clear your head and make the information easily available for quick, visual access. Plus, you can add ideas to it during the test.
Believing in yourself and your abilities will help you do your best! Making an effective effort to prepare for exams will help you maintain a positive attitude during finals week. For oodles of helpful tips and strategies available on the web try searching the phrase “college test taking strategies”. Click on the following hyperlink to one great website: http://www.studygs.net/index.htm . If you feel you are experiencing a high-level of test anxiety, contact our free counseling services for confidential assistance: TabathaMiller@centralpenn.edu or 717-728-2416. Try out the quick questionnaire contained in the following link to assess your own level of anxiety: http://phcc.edu/ods/questionnaire.pdf .
Well, that’s all for now. Let’s get to work!
Michael Filippo, M.Ed, College Advisor
* Do you have a study suggestion or tip you’d like to share? Post a comment. We’d love to know what works for you!
* Meet the rest of the “A-team” under Advisor Profiles on our blog’s Homepage.
Do you have questions or need assistance from your advisor but are not sure of how to reach him or her? Send an email to CollegeAdvisors@centralpenn.edu and someone will be happy to assist you