There is no one perfect strategy to prepare for an exam. However, I always advise students to approach it as performances, being it a play, sporting event, or a contest. The exam prep on the other hand should be seen as the rehearsal toward the performance.
It is a fact that knowing something is different from doing it. You know exercising is important but doing it might become a problem. In other words, knowing the strategies or techniques to prepare for an exam is not the same as using them effectively. Practicing is key if you seek to achieve something while working under pressure. You need precision, consistency, and required effort as and when it is needed.
But how many students put in conscious effort in preparing for their exams? Just like preparing for a performance, you need to be purposeful in your academic pursuit. Here are some effective measures to employ when preparing for exams.
Think like a professor
- Get into the thinking of your professor to envisage his learning objectives and how the courses will take.
- Your immediate focus should be on the concepts, themes, and principles of the course. You can then look into them for greater understanding.
- Also, try to identify and understand the concepts used by your professors during class. You do this through their line of questioning, homework they assign, and quizzes.
Try to predict exams questions
If you are very attentive in class, you should be able to somehow predict the questions for an exam. Lecturers mostly give a clue of what is important or examinable when teaching. Always pay extra attention to things they write on the board or points they emphasize. Through your lecture notes, class discussions, and reading, you can predict the next exam questions. Also, study how concepts of topic relate to each other and formulate questions around them.
Identify and work on your weaknesses
Do you struggle to understand some concepts? Do you have problems in solving some particular questions? You can give that particular topic or concept some special attention until you understand. You can also seek help from course mates or your professor. Make use of the various resources and centers at your disposal.
You should master your material for easy memorizing and application.
Create study aids
You should find interesting ways of making learning and knowledge retention easier. There are several ways you can do this including:
- Rewriting things in your own words gives you control over them and easily remembered. You should find words to rewrite definitions, principles, and theorem.
- Read summaries that encapsulate the main points of topics and relates them to other subjects of your course of study.
- Come up with a course blueprint that brings together concepts of the course.
Strategies for quantitative courses
- Go through old exam papers and previous assignments. You can also make use of the questions at the end of textbook chapters.
- Identity a common solution technique you can employ throughout your studies and problem-solving.
- Set questions yourself or if you are using those at the end of textbook chapters, make sure you solve the questions without consulting your books.
Don’t be afraid or ashamed to seek help from a coursemate or professor when you are in difficulty. You can do this during lectures or afterward.