The Learning Resources staff conducts study skills workshops throughout the year and are available upon request.
Learn how to improve your study skills:
- Attend every class. Read your assignment before class and go prepared to take notes.
- Sit toward the front of the class, participate and ask questions.
- Get to know your professors.
- Join a study group.
- Take advantage of workshops to improve your study skills.
- Get a planner, make a schedule and stick to it.
- Maintain a positive attitude and a sense of humor. Don’t let the negativity of others get you down.
- Do first things first. Learn to say “no.”
- Study in a quiet, distraction-free place, like the library.
- Get enough sleep, and eat real meals.
- Study when you are most alert. Use small blocks of time during the day between classes to study.
- Start long-range assignments as soon as they are given.
- Review class notes regularly. Don’t depend on cramming to get you through a test – it’s the least effective way to study.
- Learn where help can be obtained, and don’t be afraid to ask for it.
- Hand in all assignments on time.
- Show respect for those around you – faculty, staff and other students.
- Make your education your full-time job, not your hobby.
- Eliminate distractions while studying. Study where it’s quiet, eat well so that you won’t be hungry, and get enough sleep so that you can concentrate.
- Study with a partner (who is serious about studying) to increase motivation.
- Read actively. Look up words you don’t understand. Turn important information into possible test questions. Mark main ideas or take notes as you read. Summarize key information in your own words.
- Break large assignments down into smaller tasks and concentrate on one task at a time.
- Schedule enough study sessions to review information several times, not just once.
- Review class notes with 24 hours after taking them. After 24 hours, up to 80% of your understanding may be lost.
- Recite material out loud.
- Do memory work before going to sleep. Review again in the morning.
- Use memory techniques such as mnemonics, association, catchwords, and silly sentences. Or set information to music or rhythm. (Example of a mnemonic: the first letters of the Great Lakes spell HOMES. For a list must be memorized in order, make up a silly sentence using the first letters of each word on the list. Example: remembering the sentence “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas” will enable you to remember the planets in order from the sun outward.)
- Condense important information on flash cards and drill.
- Create diagrams, mind maps, trees to remember relationships between things/ideas.
- Create a flow chart to remember things in a sequence.
- Use a time line to remember dates.
- Get information right the first time. It’s sometimes harder to “unlearn” incorrect information than it is to learn correct information.
- Associate new material with related facts you already know. A good example makes a concept easier to remember.
- Try explaining an important concept to a friend without looking at notes or books.
- Try to predict possible exam questions, and then see if you can answer them.
- Don’t just try to memorize information by rote. Make sure you understand the meaning. Meaning improves memory.
Are you a Visual Learner?
Do you need to see information to learn it? Do you learn best by reading and watching?
Strategies that might be effective for you:
- copy class notes over
- condense important information on flashcards and drill
- convert written notes to diagrams, mind maps, charts, times lines, etc. visualize pictures in your mind as you read
- create a strong visual image by using different colors to mark your textbooks
- try to see information in as many ways and as many times as possible
Are you an Auditory Learner?
Do you need to hear information to learn it? Do you learn best by listening to an explanation? Strategies that might be effective for you:
- record lectures and listen to them again
- use flash cards, but recite questions and answers aloud
- study with a partner who can ask you questions
- add rhythms or tunes to your learning
- read notes aloud
- try to hear information as many times as possible
Are you a tactile Learner?
Do you learn best by doing hands-on learning, as in lab classes?
- try to “handle” information in as many different ways as possible
- if given a choice, choose a project over a paper or oral report
- use a word processor to create study guides for yourself
- concentrate on taking notes in class, especially if you find you have trouble listening
- build a model of something that has many parts to remember
If you don’t know what your learning style is come to the Academic Enrichment Center and ask to take the Learning Styles Inventory, a computerized tool that will tell you how you learn. It only takes 15 minutes, and the Academic Enrichment Center staff will be happy to help you interpret your scores.
Stress is the body’s reaction to a perceived threat, or a demand, either pleasant or unpleasant. Stress is not the result of an event, but the body’s reaction to the event.
Stress can be good (eustress) or bad (distress). Good stress can be beneficial in that it motivates us to do well and it goes away after the stressor is gone. (Example: nervousness before a speech or performance.) Good stress can help us be more creative and energetic. Too little stress leaves us bored and unchallenged.
Bad stress is unrelieved anxiety that persists over a long period of time, emotionally paralyzes us and interferes with normal life. This kind of stress can manifest itself in many ways:
appetite change, headaches, tension, fatigue, insomnia, nervous habits; increased alcohol, drug and tobacco use, digestive problems, restlessness, high blood pressure
anxiety, frustration, mood swings, nightmares, crying, irritability, depression, discouragement
emptiness, loss of meaning, loss of direction, apathy
forgetfulness, poor concentration, negative attitude, confusion, boredom, negative self-talk
isolation, intolerance, loneliness, distrust, resentment
What is a stressor?
A stressor is something that is asking us to respond.
Happy events and positive changes in our lives can be stressors just as unhappy events or negative changes can. Marriage, starting school, moving, the birth of a baby, a new relationship or a new job, even though positive, can produce stress.
How can stress be managed?
- Use good time management. A major cause of stress for students is feeling that there is not enough time to get everything done. Students with families and/or jobs find that this is a real problem. A planner in which you can schedule your semester and weekly obligations and study time is essential. Then have a daily “game plan” or “to do” list with tasks prioritized. When you feel that you are controlling your schedule instead of your schedule controlling you, stress will decrease.
- Avoid clutter – have at least one place where you can study that is orderly, organized and clutter free.
- Don’t be afraid to say “no.” Remember that school is temporary, and while you are a student, other activities may have to be put on hold. Take a look at all your activities and see which ones can be eliminated, at least temporarily.
- Don’t procrastinate. Discipline yourself to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done.
- Enlist the help of those around you. Delegate. Ask yourself, “Does this have to be done? Does it have to be done by me, or could someone else do it?”
- Try to avoid situations that you know are stressful. For example, if trying to study at home or in your room is stressful because you feel you don’t accomplish anything, arrange to study in the library.
- Deal with frustrations when they occur – take a break, exercise. Decide if the frustration is something that you can control. If so, devise a plan. What are your options? If the frustration is something you cannot control, try to let go of it.
- Try to keep perspective and balance in your life. Schedule an activity you can look forward to at the end of an especially busy week.
- Find time to exercise, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Exercise is one of the best stress busters.
- Learn to deal with negative people. Stay away from them if possible. If you can’t avoid them, try to think of positive ways to counter their negativity.
- Learn to find something positive in every situation.
- Replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk.
- Try to get rid of unrealistic expectations, such as:
- I should know everything.
- I should be liked by everyone.
- I should never make a mistake.
- My house (room) should always be neat and clean.
- I should do everything well.
- I should always be cheerful.
- I should never lose my temper.
- I should always be doing something constructive.
- I can’t rest until I get it all done.
- 14. Get enough sleep and eat healthy foods. When you feel good, you can handle stress better.
- If you are experiencing severe long-term stress that you find unmanageable, do not hesitate to ask for help.
Procrastination is putting low-priority tasks ahead of high-priority tasks. We all do this at times. We know there is something (like studying) we should do now, but we put it off because we’re not in the mood, we anticipate that the task will not be enjoyable, or the task is so large that we don’t know where to start. The longer we delay, the closer the deadline gets and the more stress we feel.
Procrastination may be more of a problem for some students in college than it was in high school. In high school, assignments tend to be short term – often due the next day. Assignments in college tend to be long term, and there is no one to prod us into doing what we should – perfect conditions for procrastination!
Here are some tips for overcoming procrastination:
Sometimes procrastination is due to poor time management. When we say we don’t have enough time to do something, we may really be saying that we are not spending our time the way we want or need to spend it.
First, assess how you spend your time. Make out an ideal schedule for one week, hour by hour, to enable you to get everything done that you need to do. Then during the course of that week, record hour by hour what you actually did. If your ideal schedule and your actual schedule don’t match, try to analyze why. Was your ideal schedule realistic?
- did you schedule one hour for a two-hour job?
- did you schedule too little time for maintenance chores such as doing laundry, running errands, shopping?
- if you commute, did you build travel time into your schedule? was your ideal schedule so demanding that you just gave up? did you schedule yourself to get up too early or study too late at night?
- how and when did you tend to waste the most time?
Revise your schedule and try again! Emergencies and other unavoidable things come up, but don’t get discouraged. Recognize that these things happen, and get back on schedule the next day.
Dealing with Interruptions
An interruption is a perfect opportunity to put off the task at hand. Learn how to minimize your interruptions:
- study in the library as much as possible
- if you study with friends, make sure they are there to study instead of socialize
- if you live in a residence hall, put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door when you need to study and politely let others know you are serious
- let an answering machine get your calls and return them later
- be aware of time wasters – especially TV – and find ways to control them
- if thoughts of other tasks you need to do pop into your mind while you are trying to study, jot them down and forget them until later – stay on task!
Break Large Tasks into Smaller Ones
The hardest part of a big job (like doing a research paper) is getting started. The project seems so large we don’t know where to begin. Take a large task and break it down into all the small steps necessary to complete it. Then go to work on it, one small task at a time. Once the first small part is done, you’re not procrastinating any longer – you’ve begun. Completing that first step will give you a feeling of accomplishment and motivate you to go on to the next step.
Set goals for yourself that will help you get your work done. Remember to make these relatively short-term, reachable and measurable. When you have reached a goal, reward yourself for a job well done!
Enlist the Help of Others
If you have trouble staying motivated by yourself, make a “contract” with a friend. Encourage each other to stay on task and reach the goals you’ve set.
- Always read the assignment before going to class! Why?
- you’ll be able to take better notes in class because the material will be familiar to you
- you won’t get behind in your reading – reading one chapter is “doable” but trying to catch up on 6 chapters seems like a monumental task
- you’ll be able to connect the text with the lecture and discover what points are emphasized in both
- you’ll be able to ask questions in class about the text material
- Read your most difficult textbooks when you are most alert.
- Be realistic in how much reading you tackle at one sitting. It’s probably not realistic to expect to read 75 pages of history without a break. Divide long reading assignments into smaller chunks and do one part at a time.
- Try reading for 50 minutes and taking a 10 minute break.
- Mark up your textbook! You may have been told in high school never to make a mark in your texts. But you own your books now, and marking your text is part of the valuable process of identifying the most important points in your reading.
- If you buy used textbooks, try to buy ones with as little marking as possible. How do you know that the previous owner’s highlighting reflects what is really important in a chapter? And putting your own marking system on top of someone else’s can get confusing.
- Resign yourself to the fact that reading a chapter once is rarely enough.
The SQ3R Method of Textbook Reading
S – Survey
Look at the chapter as a whole before you begin to read. Notice major headings and key words. Is this chapter too long to read all at once? Do you need to break it down into smaller chunks? What resources are there in the textbook? Is there a glossary in the back of the book? Appendices? Look for a chapter review at the end, or study questions. They’ll give you an idea of what important things you’re looking for in the chapter.
What major points is the author trying to get across in this chapter? What are you supposed to learn? Always pay attention to the introduction to a chapter – it may give a good summary and/or state the author’s purpose.
R – Read
Read the first time for general understanding. This can be done relatively quickly to get an overview of the material. Read actively. Look up words you don’t know.
R – Review
Read the material again with a highlighter in your hand. Read a whole paragraph before you highlight anything, then decide what in that paragraph is most important. Your highlighted main ideas and supporting details will be what you reread when you review for a test. If everything is highlighted, you will have to reread the whole chapter as if it were new material. Pay attention to:
- the first sentence in a paragraph – it’s often the main idea
- headings and sub-headings
- key terms and definitions
- the main idea explained
- important dates
- charts, diagrams, picture captions – lots of information may be contained there
- Then, take the points you highlighted, turn them into test questions and write them in the margin of your textbook (or on another sheet of paper if there’s not room in the margin). You now have a study guide for the test on that material!
R – Recite
The most overlooked aspect of studying. See if you can give answers without looking. Can you answer the questions you wrote in the margins? Can you answer study questions at the end of the chapter or chapter sections? If not, go back and look for answers.
Repetition is Key to Retention!
Notetaking serves several purposes. It provides a written record for review, it forces the notetaker to pay attention to the lecture, and it requires the notetaker to organize/condense/rephrase information, which aids understanding.
Notetaking is more difficult in some classes than others. Sometimes the lecturer is not organized or may jump from topic to topic, making it difficult to take coherent notes. The lecturer may talk too fast, leading to frustration and forcing the notetaker to pay more attention to the mechanical act of writing than to listening to what is being said. Or, the lecturer may talk too softly or in a monotone voice, which leads to inattention.
Tips for taking good notes:
- Sit in the front of the classroom. You can hear and see better, distractions will be reduced, and you can focus on what the lecturer is saying and interact with him/her.
- Always read assigned material before you go to class. The lecture will make more sense if you have some background knowledge, and you will be able to pick out main ideas more effectively. You will also be able to answer/ask questions about the text material.
- Try to schedule your classes during the time of day when you are most awake and alert.
- Use a tape recorder in class when the lecturer talks too fast and you feel you can never get enough information down on paper OR if you are a very auditory learner and listening to the lecture again will help you retain it. Taping the lecture can reduce stress in class and allow you to concentrate on listening. If you miss something in your notes, you can listen to the tape and fill in gaps later.
- Always date your notes.
- Pay close attention to the first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes of the class period. The first 10 minutes may be a summary of the previous class and an introduction to the lecture about to begin. The last 10 minutes may contain a summary of what was just said and/or assignments and instructions.
The Cornell Method of Notetaking
The Cornell system is one that is widely used by college students. It incorporates all the aspects of good notetaking – listening, condensing or rephrasing, writing, analyzing, summarizing and reviewing.
Divide your loose leaf notebook paper into two columns. The left hand column should be about 1/3 of the width of the paper and the right-hand column the remaining 2/3.
In class, take your notes in the 2/3 column only and on one side of the paper only. Record main points and supporting ideas. Leave plenty of space in your notes for later additions or revisions. Use your own system of abbreviations, especially if the lecturer talks fast. Take notes in phrases rather than complete sentences and draw diagrams when appropriate.
Pay special attention to:
- information written on the board or shown on a projector
- information emphasized in both the lecture and the text
- information referred to several times in the lecture
- signal words that tell you something important is coming, such as “for example”, “in conclusion”, “in contrast”, “consequently”, “most important”, “main causes”, “several stages”, “characteristics of”, “advantages”, “disadvantages”, “cause and effect”, etc.
Revising your Notes After Class
This step is often forgotten but is a step that will increase your retention of the information and decrease your study time later.
Most forgetting takes place within 24 hours of hearing. Within two weeks, we forget up to 80% of what we’ve heard. So, within 24 hours after class, go back over your notes:
- if there are gaps in your notes, try to fill them in by referring to your text, comparing notes with a classmate, or listening to the lecture again if you recorded it
- write a brief summary of the lecture on the bottom of the last page of your notes
- pull out main ideas from your notes and turn them into possible test questions. Write these questions in the 1/3 column in your notes – the Recall Column. Pull out key words, definitions, lists, formulas, dates, names, etc.
- cover the 2/3 column of your notes with a piece of paper and see if you can answer the questions you wrote in the Recall Column.
- You have already begun to transfer the information in that day’s notes from your short-term to your long-term memory! Small amounts of time in between classes are a good time to review notes.
- Each week, review the notes you’ve taken since the last test. Spaced effort is more effective than the same effort spent cramming for a test.
An “all-nighter” is the least effective way to study for a test. Cramming for a test is like not eating for two weeks, then trying to eat all those missed meals in one sitting. You can’t digest that much food at once. You can’t digest that much information at once either. Schedule several study sessions before a test. Repetition is the key to remembering.
Never Miss the Class Before a Test
The class period before a test is when you’ll find out what the test will be like. Find out as much as possible:
- What will it cover?
- Will it be objective, essay or both?
- How much will each type of question be worth?
- How much time will you have to complete the test?
Learning the Important Information
- Using your class notes and your highlighted textbook, make flash cards with facts, definitions, people, dates, events, lists, etc. The act of writing the information on the cards will help you remember it. Each time you go through the stack of cards, you are transferring the information from your short term memory into your long term memory. If you are an auditory learner, study with a partner who can ask you the questions or give the answers aloud to yourself.
- Look for recurring themes in your text and in your notes. Essay questions will probably come from those themes. Make a list of possible essay questions and make a brief outline of how you would answer each one.
- Don’t forget charts, diagrams and captions to pictures in your textbook. They can contain lots of valuable information. If your professor has referred to a diagram in the text during his/her lecture, study it!
- Use mnemonic (memory) devices for learning lists or parts of something: for items that do not have to be remembered in any particular order, take their first letters and see if you can arrange them into a word or an easily remembered order. (Ex: the first letters of the Great Lakes spell HOMES) for items that must be learned in order, make up a sentence using their first letters in order. (Ex: the first letters of the words in the sentence “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas” will tell you the planets in order from the sun outward) if you like music, try setting information to a tune or rhythm Any memory device that works is okay, and it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but you!
- Study with a friend – compare notes, ask each other questions, do flash cards together, discuss themes that would make good essay questions.
- Play the role of your professor. Make up the most difficult, objective test you can, and take it until you know the answers.
- Make visual organizers – invent charts, diagrams, trees, drawings to help you remember.
- Study past quizzes. Test question information tends to show up again and again.
- Try to over learn the material, that is, study until the answers come to you easily.
- Remember that repetition is the key to remembering, and this means starting your test preparation early enough so that many repetitions are possible.
General Test Taking Tips
- Get a good night’s sleep. Going into the test rested and alert will benefit you more than staying up all night cramming.
- Get to the room a few minutes early. Relax, look over your notes. Don’t listen to other students who may be panicking about the test. Stay focused.
- When you get the test, write any mnemonic devices, formulas, etc. in the margin in pencil while they are fresh in your mind.
- Look over the entire test before you begin. Get an idea of how much time you need to spend on each section.
- Read the directions carefully. Make sure you know what you are being asked to do. If not, ask the professor to clarify.
- Don’t leave blanks. Make an educated guess.
- Answer questions you are sure of first. Mark in pencil those you skip and come back to them later. Don’t allow yourself to get bogged down on one question and use up valuable time. Another question further on in the test may give you a clue about one you skipped.
- Use all the time you have to check computation on math or science questions.
- Check the backs of pages of the test, especially the last page, for additional questions.
- Change an answer only if you can justify the change (i.e., you misread the question). Do not change answers simply because you are panicking or running out of time. Students find that when they do this they usually change right answers to wrong answers!
Answering Multiple Choice Questions
- Read the question carefully, twice if necessary, and underline key words.
- Before reading the answer options, try to think of the answer on your own.
- Read the question again and end it with option A. Is this a true statement? If so, it is a possible answer (although it may not be the best answer.) If option A does not make the statement true, cross it out.
- Follow this procedure with each of the options. Hopefully, you will be left with one answer. If you are left with two possibilities, you will have to choose the most correct answer, or make an educated guess, but you have raised your odds of a correct answer to 50/50.
Clues to correct answers:
- “all of the above”
- one of two opposite answers
- one of two similar
- answers the most inclusive answer
Clues to incorrect answers:
- a totally unfamiliar term
- the highest or lowest in a set of numbers
- an answer that would make the statement grammatically incorrect
Answering True and False Questions
- Read the statement very carefully. Be alert to negatives.
- Remember that for a statement to be true, every part of it must be true.
- Extreme modifiers like “always”, “only”, and “never” are usually clues to false statements since they don’t allow for any exceptions.
- Words like “often”, “frequently,” and “usually” often indicate a true statement, since they do allow for exceptions.
- If a statement has double negatives, cross out both and then evaluate the statement.
Answering Matching Questions
- Look over both sides of the list. Are there the same number of items on each side? Will some answers be used more than once or will there be some left over?
- Work from the list with the longest phrases and see which shorter phrase fits. This will save you time.
- If each answer will be used only once, cross off answers as you use them.
Answering Fill-in the Blank Questions
- Look at the number of blanks in the question. The answer may have the same number of words.
- Think about what type of answer is required – a date? a term? a number? a person’s name?
- If the blank is preceded by “an”, the answer will start with a vowel.
- Make sure your answer will make the sentence grammatically correct.
- If you can’t think of the exact word you need, use a synonym that would make the statement true.
Problem Solving in Science or Math
- Read the directions and the problem carefully. Be sure you know what you are solving for.
- Drawing a picture or making a table is often helpful when solving word problems.
- Check your work by using opposite operations when possible.
- Check to see if you answer is logical and reasonable.
- Show your work. If you have set up a problem correctly but get the wrong answer because of a calculation error, you might still receive partial credit.
When You Get the Test Back
- Make sure you learn the correct answers to the questions you missed.
- Analyze your test. What was the source of most of the information you missed? – text? class notes? outside reading? handouts? Pay particular attention to that source in preparing for the next test.
- Evaluate how well you were able to predict test questions? Was most of the information on the test marked in your text or in your notes, or was there information that you totally missed?
- Decide if you missed questions because you failed to read directions carefully?
- Learn from your mistakes and remember that test questions tend to resurface on mid-terms and finals!
- Get a good night’s sleep. Going into a test rested and alert will benefit you more than staying up all night cramming.
- Budget your time. Look over the entire test before you begin. How many points is each question worth? Which ones will require the most time?
- Read the directions carefully. Be alert to each professor’s special requirements such as “write only on every other line”, “write only on one side of the page”, “use ink,” or “define 10 of the following 15 terms.”
- Be sure you know what directional words in essay questions mean, such as compare, contrast, analyze, define, describe, explain, list, outline, summarize, trace, etc.
- Neatness counts! Put yourself in the place of the professor who may have to read 100 test papers.
- Be alert to grammar, spelling and punctuation errors. Don’t let errors overshadow your knowledge of the subject.
- Use all the time you are allotted to proofread your answers.
- Before beginning to answer long essay questions, make a brief outline on your paper of the main points you want to include. If you run out of time, the professor will be able to see where you were going with your answer.
- Begin your answer with a strong first sentence that shows you know the answer to the question. Then, go on to develop and support your points.
- Remember that padding an answer will not improve it and may lower rather than raise your grade. The longer answer is not necessarily the better answer. Stick to the point!
- If a question has several parts, make sure you answer every part you are required to answer.
- If questions do not have to be answered in a specific order, answer the easiest one first. It can be a confidence builder and help you tackle more difficult questions.
- If you feel you wrote good answers to the test questions but are disappointed when you get your test back, make an appointment to meet with your professor to go over the test. Ask for suggestions on how you could have written a better answer.
Many students feel anxious before a test, especially a final exam. A small amount of test stress is normal and can actually be helpful – it motivates you to study more and keeps you focused. But serious test anxiety can interfere with your ability to demonstrate what you know on a test and jeopardize your grades.
Physical symptoms of test anxiety can include headaches, nausea, elevated blood pressure, mind going blank, sweating, poor concentration and nervousness.
Test anxiety usually stems from one of two causes:
knowing you do not have a good understanding of the information on which you are being tested. This can trigger panic attacks. Cramming for the test makes you realize how much information you don’t know and don’t have time to learn.
experiences that shook your confidence such as poor grades on past tests, negative comments and attitudes from others, etc. You can help yourself overcome test anxiety by preparing yourself emotionally, physically and mentally.
- seek support and cooperation from friends and family.
- replace negative self-talk with positive statements.
- instead of: “I never should have taken this class. I’ll probably fail. I blew the last test. I’ll never catch up now. I never do well on tests.” try: “I’m ready. I know the information. I’ve been using good study techniques. I’ve been to all the classes and kept up with the work. Now is my chance to show what I know.”
- use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing to slow down your body’s systems when you feel yourself begin to panic.
- study with a partner who has a positive outlook and can give you encouragement and affirmation. Stay away from classmates who have a negative attitude about the class.
- get a good night’s sleep before the test – being rested and alert will be of more benefit than staying up all night cramming. Exhaustion will contribute to your anxiety.
- don’t go into the test hungry, but avoid junk food, especially sugars.
- exercise is a good stress buster. Try taking a brisk walk before the test.
- get to the classroom a few minutes early and do some relaxation exercises before the test begins.
- try to ignore other students who have last minute anxiety. Stay focused!
- use good basic study skills
- organize your materials for studying
- use techniques for studying that are appropriate to your learning style – flash cards and diagrams work well for visual learners, reciting material aloud or studying with a partner works well for auditory learners
- use good time management to schedule several study sessions to prepare for the test – repetition is the key to remembering information
- use your notes and text to try to anticipate test questions attend any review sessions that are offered. If none are offered, ask the professor to have one, or form a study group.
- never miss the class before a test – that’s your chance to ask questions. Find out as much as possible about the test format and what the test will cover.
- Over prepare – study past the point of recognition to the point of recall. Many students go over and over the information in their notes until everything looks fairly familiar. This may be enough if you only have to recognize a correct answer when you see it (matching or multiple choice, for instance), but may be inadequate if you must come up with the answer on your own or explain a concept.
During the Test
- quickly look over the whole test before you begin and determine how you need to budget your time. This will reduce worry over whether or not you will have time to finish the test.
- concentrate on the test instead of on yourself. Become an active test taker. Circle direction words and underline key terms in directions and questions. This helps you stay focused on the task and avoid anxiety.
- mouth the questions or read them aloud in a whisper. This activates your hearing and asks another of your senses to help you stay focused on the question.
- use a blank paper or your arm to block off the rest of the test. This allows you to concentrate on the question at hand, and not on how much further you have to go.
- if you feel yourself getting anxious in the middle of the test, stop, close your eyes and do some deep breathing or other relaxation technique to recenter yourself before you go on.
- if noise in the room distracts you, try wearing ear plugs.
- try to ignore what other students are doing – especially if some begin turning their tests in quickly. You earn points for correct answers, not speed!
- go through the entire test, answering questions you are sure of first. This will build your confidence and prevent you from getting bogged down and wasting time on one question. Then go back to more difficult questions.
- don’t leave questions blank – make your best educated guess.
- You are paying for the privilege of attending class. Skipping class is a waste of your tuition dollars.
- Going to class is an efficient use of your time. It will take you twice as long to find out what you missed, copy someone else’s notes, etc., as it would to have gone to class yourself.
- When you skip, you miss class discussions – a chance to hear other students’ questions and ask your own.
- Someone else’s class notes will not make as much sense to you as your own.
- Lectures often cover materials other than the text.
- Professors tend to highlight what they consider most important – your clue as to what’s likely to be on an exam.
- Much of your education comes from direct interaction with faculty, not just from reading a textbook. Your teachers are experts in their fields with experience to share.
- You may need a favor from a professor at some time – an incomplete, more time on an assignment, etc.
- You are responsible for all material covered in class, whether you were there or not.
- Attitude is important. Skipping class tells the professor you do not value what he/she has to say. Attendance at every class says that you are interested, you want to do well, you value the class and learning is a priority.
To get more information, please contact Director of Learning Resources and Services Holli Phillips.
Director of Learning Resources and Services
(540) 665 – 4928 | firstname.lastname@example.org