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Tips for Effective Studying: How to Study for an Exam (transcript)

Tips for Effective Studying: How to Study for an Exam

Hello and welcome back! My name is Dr. Cheryl Lentz, owner of The Refractive Thinker® Press. Today our focus is on Tips for Effective Studying: How to Study for an Exam.

Creating your own exam study system should be simple and include only a few short steps. Once you have designed these steps, you need to conduct your study sessions the same way every time.

I offer the following 5-step process as one system to consider.

Step 1: Study

While not intended to state the obvious, be sure that you spend time throughout your course studying your course materials. Effective study requires careful planning. Work smarter, not harder. When the time comes to take the final exam, your study efforts will be put forth as an overall review of the material instead of having to relearn the material.

During your review, begin with your syllabus. Be sure to review the course objectives and learning objectives or outcomes for each week of your course. Did you grasp the overall intent of your course? Did you grasp the intended concepts? Be sure to review the assigned reading materials, supplemental materials, and any exercises that were completed during the term. Be sure to also review any potential review outlines or suggested review materials often provided by the course or your faculty.

Step 2: Prepare Your Study Space

Are you taking an exam within class or is this a take home exam? Perhaps an automated exam? Either way, be sure to prepare your study space and your mindset to take the exam.

If you are taking a closed book exam, be sure to clear your desk space so that you have no distractions. Be sure to come prepared with any allowable tools such as pen, No. 2 pencil, or perhaps a calculator.

If you are taking an open book/open note exam, be sure to bring along the appropriate materials. Double check to make sure you have the correct textbook(s), applicable notes, exercises, and review materials. Be sure to review any helpful hints by your faculty.

If you are taking an electronic (automated) or Take Home exam, be sure to set aside quiet time for you to take the exam away from family, friends, and any distractions. Be sure that your environment is conducive to studying. Make sure that you have all the applicable materials, computer and any tools that may be needed and/or allowed. Careful preparation and planning is crucial to exam success.

Step 3: Types of Exam Strategies

Each exam type has its own strategies and way to prepare for them. First and foremost, try to relax. Take a few deep breaths. Focus and center yourself. If I could change one thing about all exams, is that I would call them final exercises instead as grades are nearly 10-15% higher if we avoid that dreaded 4-letter word E-X-A-M.

If this is an open book or open note exam, be sure to prepare yourself. Make sure that you have copies of all pertinent information and textbooks. Be sure to download and/or have accessible all textbooks, supplemental readings, and any other course documents. Be organized. Often exams are timed, do not waste time trying to get organized during the exam, but come prepared to the exam—be sure to organize first to avoid any distractions or added stress. Be sure that you know where to find information quickly and efficiently.

Remember that if this is an open book or open note exam, be sure to use the electronic search functions available if you have electronic textbooks or .pdf files. This technique can be a time saver.

If you are allowed live Internet, try searching Google or Google Scholar; however use this only as a last resort, as exams are designed to cover course materials as provided in your syllabus. The exam questions should come from one of your text or supplement readings. The challenge with using the Internet is again trying to find information, particularly if you are short on time; this may or may not be an efficient use of exam time.

Step 4: Types of Exam Questions

Certain questions on an exam have a specific technique for both studying as well as answering the questions. For True / False questions, be sure to read the question very carefully and watch for contradictions. Look for the key concepts and use of absolute language cues such as always, never, sometimes, and maybe. Use your logic skills to carefully reason out each question.

For Multiple Choice type questions, please review the following. If this is a truly standardized test (where you fill in the circles with a No. 2 pencil), the following may be of help.
1. If there is an, All of the above option, this tends to be the right answer.
2. Consider the phrase : Too long to be wrong. Often times, complicated or long explanations tend to be the right answer.
3. Again if a truly standardized question, there is often an equal number of A, B, and C, answers. Be sure to review your answer key prior to final submission.
4. Read the question carefully to eliminate as many answers as possible. Physically cross out wrong answers as this will increase your percentage of choosing the right answer from the remaining choices.
5. Focus on key words such as (always, never, sometimes and maybe. Be careful of the use of absolute words).

For an Essay exam, organization is key. Be sure to first outline your answer before you begin writing. Take a few moments to organize your thoughts with a firm strategy on how to begin. Be sure to remember your writing fundamentals of introduction, body, and conclusion. Be sure to include key concepts and answer the question that is being asked. Restate the question when beginning your answer. This is not the time to throw spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. Be sure that you are answering the question that is being asked.

Step 5: Review

When completing your exam, if time permits, be sure to review your work. However ALWAYS go with your first answer UNLESS you know and can prove DEFINITELY otherwise. Know why you are changing your answer. Most often, our first answer is usually the correct answer. Don’t kick yourself later.

Make sure all questions are answered (Unless you are penalized for wrong answers!).

I wish you success on your exam preparation. I hope this 5-step process will save you valuable time and exam preparation when planning your studying strategies. Enjoy your learning!

For more tips on effective academic study systems, please visit my blog at Click on Blog. Thank you again for joining me today. My name is Dr. Cheryl Lentz and I hope you find these suggestions within this video helpful. Good luck to you in your academic writing pursuits. Cheers!

With respect,


Dr. Cheryl Lentz
Chief Refractive Thinker®

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September 5th, 2011 by admin