It’s the end of the year, which means that it’s exam time for grade school, high school and college students alike. Exams can be stressful – they do play a huge role in your success as a student – but with the right preparation and strategy, you don’t have to go off the deep end. Use these three foolproof tips for studying for exams.
Figure out your unique learning style
One mistake that many students make is using study methods that they learned from teachers or friends, just because it’s “what they’ve always done.” In reality there are many different ways to study and prepare for exams, and many of the differences come down to understanding your unique learning style.
Most experts agree that there are seven different learning styles: visual (spatial), aural (auditory and musical), verbal (linguistic), physical (kinesthetic), logical (mathematical), social (interpersonal), and solitary (intrapersonal). Each individual varies in their preference of each of these different learning styles and techniques. Usually, people have a mix of learning styles, although it is common that there is one that is most dominant.
Before you begin studying to exams, make an effort to decipher your dominant learning style, and then adjust your study habits to reflect it. For example, if you are an aural learner, then you should spend time recording yourself saying important information, and then play it back and listen to it repeatedly. If you are a physical learner, then the process of writing down information is likely what’s going to work best for retention.
Once you identify your primary learning style, you can eliminate more ineffective study methods and focus on what works best for you.
Make the time
Your worst nightmare around exam season is to run out of time to study. This is a mistake that is totally avoidable and preventable, which is what makes it so horrifying.
Luckily, this a fairly easy study tip to execute. When your exam schedule is released, immediately write it down in your calendar, or schedule it into your virtual planner. If you’re not sure how to find your exam schedule, a simple Google search will usually work, since schools update them each semester. For example, if you go to UCSB, then search for “ucsb final exam schedule” and you’ll probably find your answer. Your teacher will (and should) make a point to specify when all important exams will be, so make sure you are paying attention in class!
Once you have the exam date, block off time where you’re going to study for that exam, and only that exam. You may have to do some creative scheduling when you have multiple exams, but blocking off the time is the first step to making sure that the studying actually happens.
Get help when you need at
Another easily avoidable mistake is quarantining yourself off for days at a time to study… when you don’t 100 percent understand the material. Maximize your time and study efforts by going to office hours or meeting with a tutor. They can help you understand problems or concepts in a new way that just might unlock the synapse of understanding in your brain so you can continue studying on your own.