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Preparing for Tests

Test Preparation

' Create study checklists
Identify all of the material that you will be tested on-- list notes, formulas, ideas, and text assignments you are accountable for. This checklist will enable you to break your studying into organized, manageable chunks, which should allow for a comprehensive review plan with minimal anxiety
' Create summary notes and "maps"
Briefly map out  the important ideas of the course and the relationships of these ideas. Summary notes should display lists and hierarchies of ideas.
Creativity and a visual framework will help you recall these ideas.
' Record your notes
and significant portions of text on audio tapes so you can review material with a walk-man.
Having a tape of important information will enable you to study while walking or relaxing in a nonacademic environment
' Create flashcards
for definitions, formulas, or lists that you need to have memorized--put topics on one side of the card, answers on the other. Flashcards will enable you to test your ability to not only recognize important information, but also your ability to retrieve information from scratch
Adapted from On Becoming a Master Student by David B. Ellis and How to Study in College  by Walter Pauk.

Organizing for tests

' Begin reviewing early
This will give your brain time to get comfortable with the information
' Conduct short daily review sessions
You can ease into more intense review session prior to major exams
' Read text assignments before lectures
This will help you identify concepts that the professor considers important and that are already somewhat familiar
' Review notes immediately after lectures
This will help you identify information that you do not understand while the lecture is still fresh in your memory--and other students' memories as well. When you review immediately, you'll have time to clarify information with other students
' Review with a group
This will enable you to cover important material that you may overlook on your own
' Conduct a major review early enough to allow for a visit to the instructor during his office hours if necessary
' Break up the study tasks into manageable chunks, especially during major reviews prior to exams.
Studying three hours in the morning and three in the evening will be more effective than studying at a six hour stretch. Studying while you are mentally fatigued is usually a waste of time
' Study the most difficult material when you are alert
Adapted from On Becoming a Master Student by David B. Ellis and How to Study in College
by Walter Pauk.

Index study system

Here is a method of studying that gives you an accurate perception of how well you know the material, and forces you to think about it, rather than just look over it.

' Review your notes and readings frequently, so the material is "fresh"
' As you're reading your text or reviewing your notes, generate and write down questions about the material. Imagine you're teaching the course. What questions would you ask on the exam?

' Keep track of any terms you need to know

' Write each question or term on the back of an index card

' On the front of each index card, write an answer or an explanation for the question or term on the back.
Use your notes and text for a reference, but put the answer or explanation in your own words whenever possible
' Shuffle the index cards (so you can't figure out any answers based on their location in the deck

' Look at the card on the top of the deck:
Try to answer the question or explain the term. If you know it, great! Put it on the bottom of the deck. If you don't know it, look at the answer, and put it a few cards down in the deck (so you'll come back to it soon)

' Proceed through the deck of cards until you know all of the information

Some Tips:

' Carry your cards with you everywhere. Take advantage of little pockets of time. Test yourself while you're waiting on line, riding the bus, etc.

' If you think you know an answer,but can't put it into words, you probably don't know it well enough.
Being able to explain the information is the only way to be sure that you know it. It's also the best way to prevent test anxiety

' Consider testing yourself someplace where nobody can see you (and think you're crazy), and reciting the answers out loud. That's the best way to be sure that you can explain them

' Study with a friend from your class. You can share ideas and help each other out with concepts. Also, you can use each other

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