Study… aragh! And a question for the readers.

My exam timetable was released this morning and logging on I see that I’ve got what amounts to a pretty rotten one. I’ve got one exam on the Wednesday in the first week of the exam period, another on the Thursday and then my last one is two weeks after that! Horrible! Having all three in the first week would be worse but it doesn’t seem right to have two close together then ages and ages before the third. Anyway, this means I have to start studying. For my law subjects I’ve got open-book exams. This is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I’m horrible at exams and a curse because it means they expect a much greater standard of work.

Over the next few weeks I’ll make an effort to post a blog about organising notes for exams – whether they be open or closed-book but in the meantime I’d love some suggestions about how to go about studying. Any ideas?

So, my question for the day: how do you study and revise for exams?

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9 Comments on “Study… aragh! And a question for the readers.”

  1. Dave Tran Says:

    The best advice I’ve gotten is the most cliche: “Know your enemy.”

    If the professor likes to make up their own problems, think of what kind of problems they would ask. Granted, this is harder to do with the first midterm, but it tends to work better when it comes time for finals. If you study with someone, make up questions for each other, even if it requires you both to look up the answer.

    Is the class more concept based (ie. physics), or would enormous amounts of flash cards help more (ie. anatomy)? In the end I think it really depends on what kind of test the professor is giving.

    And as a word of caution: don’t pull all your eggs in one basket. Many tests have several different sections: matching, fill-in-the-blank, and written. Flash cards might not help you for the written but will help you in the others and vice versa.

  2. Thanks for the tips, Dave. All my exams are law exams this semester so they have a fairly predictable format. They’re also open book – which opens a whole new can of worms.

    I like the idea about studying with a partner and making questions up – now I just have to cajole someone into studying with me! Methinks it’s time to employ the age-old bribery trick of chocolate.

    Anyone else got any suggestions?

  3. I re-read notes all the time (i.e. throughout a term) and that covers factual information pretty completely. For longer answer questions, to get speed and technique I spend a make myself write out everything I know on a given topic in a certain amount of time. If there are debate questions on the exam, then I’ll make some up myself and plan the answers (not write them out in full, though).

    Then there’s finding someone else and doing quizzes, and just plain reading. You may also be interested in SuperMemo, which promises to make you learn things very quickly.

  4. kim Says:

    I’m a visual person, so i like pictures and diagrams, but when they werent available, i found rewriting notes and flash cards helpful. even thinking of everything you can remember in your head at the grocerie store or something helps.

  5. Felix Says:

    Unlike the previous person, I’m an audio person. So I tend to be better at remembering stuff I – or other people – say. A good way for me to remember stuff is to just say stuff out loud, or have a chat with a friend about a certain subject (try to be humourous; it helps! Although you may have to watch yourself to keep from wandering to another subject).

  6. Jo Ann Says:

    All good ideas, I’ve used all of them. I am a person with 17 years of medical experience and education breaking in to a second career in the fashion business, so I use every trick I can. To add to the above list, try doing a technique you wouldn’t normally for the exam. I take my written notes and make them visual mind maps, but any way to shake up the status quo might make the information stick better. Best.

  7. Lise Says:

    I’m going back to school for my MS in comp sci and mostly I revise by talking over key concepts with my husband, who’s a programmer. If it’s something he knows well, he can often give me a new perspective on a tough concept, and if it’s something he doesn’t know well, then I get the benefit of explaining it to him in my own words. I think this process allows me to make the information my own.

  8. pgill Says:

    Every chapter in all school books has keywords to them, jot down the keywords and the page number they are on and then you can use it as a quick index to search for related information from a question.

  9. pgill Says:

    In addition to using the keywords, practicing being a comprehensive reader would help. You absorb more of what you are reading if you have adequete reading comprehension.

    I actually am trying not to be rude to the other responses in this blog for this question, but I find myself wondering how they have gotten this far in their education and are unable to spell or spell check. Words you write tell the person reading those words about you. I hope the poor spelling and grammar are intentional.

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