How to study for an exam
Subtitle: how to get good grades on an exam
This is a big subject. Obviously this journal entry will not cover everything. Readers are welcome to write to the editor to ask for clarification and examples.
1. Consult previous exams if available. Acquaint yourself with the style of the examiner. Will the test be multiple choice, open-ended questions, true/false, fill-in-the-blanks? What is the level of difficulty? All these tell you how you should study and where you should focus. Open-ended questions are most difficult because you have to verbalise your answers.
2. Start early. Incremental learning is the best way to build your knowledge and develop your understanding of the material. It also lasts longer than cramming for an exam. Develop a discipline of studying and doing homework regularly and way in advance of the exam date. This also builds your confidence, which is important to ward off fear and anxiety. Studying is like making a stew. The longer you simmer it, the more thorough the taste will be. Get into it.
3. Develop good habits. You need to concentrate to absorb information and turn it into knowledge and understanding. Human beings can't concentrate effectively for long periods without breaks. Do not multi-task when you are studying. Do not entertain distraction.
4. Learn to memorise, derive, solve, etc. Get cues to trigger your memory. Try to identify the pattern which is easier to remember than the raw content which you must know.
5. Prioritise what is important and what is difficult. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. The important stuff that is difficult for you because of your weaknesses obviously takes priority, i.e. more time to study.
6. Know what kind of learner you are. Visual learners require only to see the material. Auditory learners need to hear it. Kinesthetic learners need to do it. If the practice of writing it down helps you learn it, do it. Repetition by seeing it, verbalising it, writing it, solving it, etc all helps to ingrain it in your mind.
7. Preparation is important. Rehearsals help - such as taking an old exam or answering practice questions. The more prepared you are, the less you will be daunted and waste time on the actual day.
The worst thing to happen is to feel intimidated (scared) when you see the exam, forget everything you've learned, and fail!
14 January 2005 Friday
How to study - a brief guide - with good links