How I Prepare For Exams

We’re more than halfway through the semester now (yay!) and while final exams might seem a long way away, the weeks fly by quickly, so it is always a good idea to plan ahead and get a kick start on studying! Here are some tips that have helped me to prepare for my final assignments and exams.

  1. Know Your Due Dates

This may seem obvious but knowing exactly when your assignments and exams are due can help you make a study plan. Make sure you check the exam schedule and keep track of your dates in a planner or calendar to help you schedule a plan that gives you enough time to get each task done well and on time. Check out my article on scheduling for more tips about setting up an academic planner!

  1. Re-Write Your Notes

This is always my first step when it comes to studying. I typically type my notes during lectures, to make sure I get as much information as possible, but I always write them out when I start studying. Research has found writing notes to be better for retention. This helps me refresh on everything that has been covered, reflect on the key points, and strengthen my memory of the content. Even if you handwrite your notes in the first place, I find re-writing them more helpful than just reading them. 

  1. Highlight and Annotate Your Notes

After I rewrite my notes, sometimes more than once, I usually read through them looking for key information or anything that I need to strengthen my understanding of. I find using two or more highlighter colours to differentiate between key concepts, words, names and other important details helps me understand the material. I also like to annotate my notes, writing questions, details or examples in the margins that help me to better understand the material. Many times, I use this method to help me find things I need to know better and then rewrite those ideas.

  1. Make Cue Cards

Although I don’t always use cue cards when I do, I usually reserve them for details I need to better understand, learn quickly or for specific keywords. Not only does writing the topic out again help to cement it in my mind, but then being able to test myself and my memory on the information helps even more.

  1. Study with Friends

I used to think that to study best, I needed to do it all alone in my quiet room, but I have come to learn that studying with other people can be very helpful. I tend to get together with friends and go over concepts in a quiz-like fashion. Not only does this help in terms of recalling information, but I find having things explained to me or explaining to others helps to reframe the details in a way that is easier to understand. Also, sometimes people have different notes and ways of understanding information, which can help you to clarify and understand the material.

  1. Take Breaks

Cramming the night before an exam may seem like a good idea at the time, but it is not very effective. I have felt this in study sessions too - if I try to spend a long period of time writing an essay or studying one subject, I get bored and feel burnt out. I find studying for smaller but more intensive periods of time, taking breaks, and switching up material helps me say focused and motivated to study. Taking some time for yourself, whether that’s listening to music (check out my Songs to De-Stress Playlist), going for a walk, or having a snack can help me to feel less stressed and re-energized.

I hope these tips help you feel more prepared to take on any assignment or exam that comes your way this semester. Happy Studying!