Study strategies for the beginning-of-the-semester test

Even though it feels like the semester has only just begun, the first exams are less than a month away. With this in mind, it is important to begin studying early, especially for those with multiple tests within the same week.

However, not only is it important just to study, but also to study in a manner that will lead to high grades. So how do you ensure that you are making the most of your study time?

First, be sure that you are studying in a calm and quiet area. Places such as restaurants, coffee shops and even dorm rooms can be noisy and easily distract you.

Houston Cole Library is an excellent location for studying; noise is often at a minimum, there are plenty of helpful books handy, along with coffee and food are readily available on the first floor. The sixth “quiet” floor is a perfect environment for late night or early morning cram sessions.

Second, you have to focus. Do not text, eat, listen to music, watch television or talk about something else while studying. If you find yourself needing to make a phone call or eat something, use this as an opportunity to take a break.

Be sure to take breaks. Go for a short walk once every hour, or listen to some of your favorite music. These short breaks will allow your mind to rest, and will help rejuvenate your motivation to continue studying.

Furthermore, it is important to think about the material while you are studying. Ask yourself questions about the main concepts and think of ways to rephrase definitions and facts; this practice will help with understanding the subject matter and recalling information during the exam.

Organization is key. If your notes are scrambled and messy, rewrite them in a neat and ordered fashion; arrange your notes into groups and sub-groups for each category or concept.

Another helpful strategy is to develop a practice test.

Make questions out of highlighted information from your notes and textbook. If you have taken quizzes in a class, include the quiz questions in the practice test.

When reading the textbook, don’t just focus on key terms and definitions.

While it is true that some of them may be important, pay more attention to the overall concepts and main points under each heading and sub-heading.

Pay particular attention to conclusions and closing remarks at the end of each section.

If studying for an essay-format test, be sure to develop a detailed outline to look over. Or perhaps write a practice essay the day before the exam.

Overall, be realistic about how much you will need to study.

Don’t expect to learn everything for an exam in one or two nights.

With upper-level college courses, it may be necessary to begin studying as early as two weeks before the exam.

Everyone learns at their own pace and in their own way, so take the time to find out what works for you.

Adam Higgins
Associate Editor

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