Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Students' Advice on the "Do's and Don’t's" of Exam Preparation

Yesterday, I asked my ASP workshop and study group leaders, who are second and third year students, what they would list as the "do's and don't's" for the last two weeks of class and the exam period.  I thought you might be interested in their advice.

Do
a. Make a study plan for the last two weeks of class as well as finals weeks
b. Finish your own outline before looking at any other outline
c. Compare your outline with one other person’s outline to spot holes in your own
d. Use supplementary materials such as hornbooks to fill gaps and clear up confusion after you finish your outline
e. Boil down your outlines into flow charts, etc.
f. Take advantage of your professor’s office hours to clear up any confusion and to fill any gaps you have discovered  (Caveat:  Do not bother a professor repeatedly.  Identify your concerns early and try to resolve them yourself; then go to the professor once to clear up concerns.)
g. Attend any reviews that your professor schedules
h. Practice with hypotheticals and sample exam questions
i. Write your own exam questions and then write answers to them
j. Pay close attention to information in the last two weeks – the concepts are likely to show up on the exam
k. Maintain a healthy lifestyle — sleep, exercise, and eat right
l. Stop working and relax before going to sleep on the night before an exam
m. Eat breakfast the day of an exam and arrive early so you can collect yourself
n. Exercise lightly the morning of exam if time allows

Don’t
a. Stop your normal class preparation
b. Stop attending classes (the last few classes are great sources for exam questions)
c. Grab every outline you can get your hands on (too much information and too unreliable)
d. Depend on commercial outlines in place of developing your own
e. Use others students’ outlines in place of developing your own
f. "Over-outline” (i.e. load the outline with extraneous detail from outside sources)
g. Study with study groups if you or they are not prepared
h. Stay up studying all night
i. Expect to learn everything from after-class review or practice exams alone
j. Party after each exam
k. Give up

(dan weddle)

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