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Preparing for tests and exams

Suggested process

  • Read through the objectives for the module of part of the course.
  • Read your lecture notes, textbook references and handouts, making summaries as you read. You should be doing this regularly throughout your course, not just two nights before a test. If there is something you do not understand, try to have it clarified at this stage. Ask another student, or your lecturer.
  • Summarise your summary notes by reducing information to keywords. You may want to write these on small, coloured cards. Some students use these as cue cards, writing a term or question on one side, and the definition or answer on the other. (The Learning Centre provides free cue cards - ask at the Information Centre, Forth Street.) Other students prefer to make visual summaries in the form of mindmaps or flow charts.
  • Discuss the information you have learned with another student or someone at home. Get someone to test you on your cue cards or make an audiotape of questions, leaving a blank space between questions so that you can provide the answer.
  • Test yourself before the exam by writing out sample answers. Try to get hold of previous years' tests/exams (the Bill Robertson Library has copies of previous exam papers on closed reserve, or you can download them from the library website: Practise writing answers under exam conditions.
  • Turn your course objectives into questions and try to answer them.
  • Keep balance in your life as you approach exams. Look after your general health: adequate diet, sleep, exercise, relaxation - as well as study.
  • In the test/exam, read the questions carefully and think before you write. Answer the questions you feel confident about first. If you can't answer a particular question, place a mark alongside it and move on - you can always come back to it later. Manage your time carefully.
  • Remember to seek help early. Don't wait until you reach crisis point before getting help. Talk to your lecturers, classmates or Learning Centre staff.

See also