Essential College Skills: Studying and Time Management
You have a big test this week. Do you:
- Cram for the test
- Pull an all-nighter
- None of the above
Hopefully, you answered C. Cramming and all-nighters are more likely to lead to panic and fatigue, neither of which will help you at test time. Instead, succeed by making time to study every day. Keep organized notes and materials, attend class, complete reading assignments, and review the material before a test. If you prepare well and study as you go, a looming test won't sound so scary. Use your time wisely with these test-taking tips:
- Make a study schedule: Make time to quickly skim your lecture notes and reading notes every day. Pay close attention to the sections you highlighted or noted as being extra important. Take extra time to complete weekly reading assignments. A quick scan of the pages before or after a thorough reading can sometimes help you retain the information. If you plan ahead to study, just like you plan ahead for work, or hanging out with your friends, you'll be better prepared. Studying doesn't have to be boring. Study at different times of day or in different areas, such as at a library, a park, or coffee shop. Study independently or with a small study group. You could even take your notes with you to the gym. Take small breaks while you're studying, but limit distractions.
- The week before a test: Revisit your notes or study guide longer each day. Rewrite your notes, make flashcards, make a practice test, or utilize other methods to commit the information to your long-term memory.
- Know what to expect: Refer to your syllabus or notes for any test tips from the professor. Will the test be multiple choice or full of essay questions? How long is it? What material or textbook chapters will it cover? If you aren't sure, ask your instructor prior to test day for any tips to help you study or if you have any lingering questions about the material. Your notes also will serve as a study guide. Pay attention to the main points you noted or any concepts your professor emphasized or even told you would be on the test.
- The night before a test: Plan to get a good night's sleep and avoid cramming, which isn't the best way to retain information long term. Do pay special attention to any difficult concepts or reread your notes. Finally, get some sleep, eat breakfast the morning of the test, and show up to class early.
- During the test: Relax! Quickly survey the entire test to get a feel for the structure and to help you allocate your time. If you are unsure about a question, skip it and return to it later. Pace yourself and don’t rush. Read the entire question before you answer and pay attention to special instructions. If you finish your test early, review your work, make sure you answered every question, and proofread your essay answers.
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