Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How to Pass Exams Without Fear

To be a successful student you have to show that you have mastered the subject material of the study course. This is usually achieved by obtaining a passing grade on a test. If you are thinking "easier said than done!" this practical guide will show you step-by-step how to prepare for those important test days when your future is determined. Some of the steps might be obvious, but you will be surprised how many students failed because they ignored the obvious.

    • Instructions

        • 1
          Step One: Always buy the textbook.
          If your first reaction is "I knew that!," congratulations, you have already grasped the importance of having a textbook. A textbook's main purpose is to present the study material to the student. The next observation somehow goes unnoticed by students: the lecturer is going to use that exact same textbook in preparing tests about the study material. There is an exception to this rule; some lecturers prefer to give student class notes and will prepare their tests from that. Ask yourself if your lecturer is pro textbook or notes.
          Note to yourself: "I cannot pass exams without buying a textbook."
        • 2
          Step Two: Always attend class.
          Except for death in the family and terminal illness, you should attend each and every lecture. That sounds like a pretty strong statement! Indeed, because ten percent of your grade point will come from information you have picked up in class. In every test there will be one or more questions you will be able to answer because you remembered the lecturer covering that question, without even having studied for it. Some lecturers are also known to ask questions that are not covered in the textbook, because they feel that the textbook neglected to cover a very important part of the subject material, or just to see who has been attending their classes.
          Note to yourself: "I cannot pass exams without attending class."
        • 3
          Step Three: Taking great notes.
          Always take your textbook, notepad and pencil to class. It is recommended that you follow in your textbook the pages that the lecturer covers, so you know which parts of the textbook he focused on. This can be accomplished by underlining keywords in your textbook and making side notes on the pages. You should not be writing down every word he says onto your notepad, but rather listen and make simplistic notes.
          Note to yourself: "I cannot pass exams without taking notes in class."
        • 4
          Step Four: Ask questions.
          If you don't understand a key concept in class, ask the lecturer to explain the area you have difficulty with. Most likely, there are other students that had the same question and are also benefiting from the explanation. If you feel that you require some extra help with some of the concepts, make an appointment with the lecturer after class and follow up.
          Note to yourself: "I cannot pass exams without participating in class".
        • 5
          Step Five: Prepare for class in advance.
          Get a good night's sleep. Many students are not fully awake in class and loose out on a golden opportunity to gain understanding about the subject. Eat a healthy diet. Many students try to budget their food, but in the process deprive their bodies of much needed nutrition. Your body needs that food! Reading the study material for the day before class is an option, but generally not necessary or required.
          Note to yourself: "I cannot pass exams without eating and sleeping enough."
        • 6
          Step Six: Know when to study.
          In order to determine when to study, you need to find out if you prefer to use your short-term memory or your long-term memory. Using your long-term memory means that you have to study the completed course material each week. That takes off a lot of pressure when the final exams arrive, as well as it gives you time to sort out any problems you might encounter while studying. This is the recommended way to do it.
          If you are a student that frequently says "I can only study under pressure," or you wait till the last minute before preparing for that test, you are using your short-term memory. The reason why some students prefer to use study under pressure is that it becomes easier to remember facts. Why is that? Well, simply because if you don't remember the facts and you fail the test, you will have trouble. Your brain therefore assigns a higher priority to the new information and your remember it easier. On the downside, the only reason why you remembered the facts was that if you didn't you would be in trouble, not because you wanted to gain a good understanding of the subject material and become an expert in that field. After the test, all that information is forgotten.
          A further negative for using short-term memory or "cramming" for a test is time management. If you run out of time and couldn't study all the material before the test, you are in trouble too. Basically not the best strategy to pass that test. Rather study beforehand and take the test with confidence.
          Note to yourself: "I cannot pass exams without studying at the right time."
        • 7
          Step Seven: Understand the three types of exam questions.
          Which exam question to answer first, that is a question that haunts many a student. Questions can be categorized as follow: 1) Questions where you recognize the question and know the answers. These types of questions you should answer first! 2) Questions where you recognize the question and can't remember the answer. These types of questions are usually accompanied by thoughts of "I should have studied that too. Aaargh!" Don't despair at this point, because you usually still remember something about the answer. Even writing only a few sentences may still gain you marks, so do answer them too. 3) Questions you don't recognize at all and have not a clue what the answer might be. For those types of questions the best advice is to hope you got a passing grade nonetheless and just forget about it.
          Note to yourself: "I cannot pass exams without answering all the questions."
        • 8
          Step Eight: Profile your lecturer.
          All people are creatures of habit and so is your lecturer. By working through old test papers from previous years you will gain an understanding of the format of the paper you may expect, as well as what your lecturer thought was important subject material. For example, if there are four recipes for cooking T-bone steak and the lecturer asked each time in the previous two years for the students to write down one recipe, the "steaks" are high that he will ask one of those recipes again.
          Note to yourself: "I cannot pass exams without understanding my lecturer."
        • 9
          Step Nine: Know how and what to study.
          Every field has its own subject matter vocabulary. Without knowing the subject terminology and definitions you can not participate in dialogue regarding it. The first step in passing a test is to know the subject terminology. Every standard test has at least a few questions about the definitions of the subject terminology.
          There are a few easy steps to remember your subject terminology and facts:
          1)Write down the most important terminology and facts. It is very important to write it down in clear handwriting, because you are going to visually memorize it. You may use colorful marker pens to make the key concepts stands out. Prepare your own little tests and rewrite the definitions until you can do it without a mistake.
          2)Read out loud from your summary sheets. It is worthwhile to do this, because you learn as much from hearing as from seeing. Do this a number of times until you know all the key concepts on your summary sheet(s).
          3)After you are confident you have grasped all the concepts and terminology and facts, take your textbook and leisurely read through the pertaining chapter. You will be amazed how many small details you will pick up now without any effort, simply because you will attach it to the relevant material on your summary sheets.
          At this point in time you might ask yourself "Do I know the work?" This part is always worrisome for students, because they lack confidence. A great confidence builder is to ask yourself: Can I write down the subject terminology and definitions? Did I read out the summary sheets a number of times and can repeat the terminology out loud? Did I read enough supplemental material to have a wide enough understanding of the subject to answer a question? Then last step is to tell yourself: "I'm prepared and ready and done studying."
          Note to yourself: "I cannot pass exams without studying the basics."
        • 10
          Step Ten: Practice exam time management.
          Many students fail tests not because they didn't study enough, but because they failed to successfully navigate the test paper! Any test paper is a bit like a hundred-meter hurdle race. You have to stay focused the whole time, or you might just spectacularly crash out, even if you were ahead. Time management is of the utmost importance. You have to set aside a portion of the time for each question. It is not possible to "catch-up" if you have spent too much time on a particular question. Your writing speed is a constant and actually gets slower towards the end of the exam, so it is important to keep very strictly to the time budget for each question.
          Note to yourself: "I cannot pass exams without managing my exam speed."

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      How to Pass Exams Without Fear |

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