Once again, exam season has arrived. Several students are required to take a midterm or final for a class they are taking. Exams count as a percentage of the student’s overall grade; this can be for the better or for the worse. But, we can choose to make it for the better! Over the years, I have learned a few tips and tricks that have helped bring me comfort and confidence when I take my midterms or finals. I hope that you find these tips helpful and please feel free to leave yours in the comments!
TIP 1: Make your own, personalized study guide two weeks in advance.
A study guide is an engaging way for you to learn the material. In fact, you are engaging with the material as you’re making the study guide! Here are a few steps I take when making a study guide.
1. Find a quiet place to study. For me, that’s my bedroom with a coconut scented candle lit! I like to listen to quiet study music and avoid listening to music with lyrics while I’m making the study guide. I know that can be hard, but it often distracts me from the material. 🙁
2. Open a Google Doc and title it with the Class Name – Midterm Study Guide. For example, if I was taking an Algebra II class, I would title it Algebra II – Midterm Study Guide.
3. Next, include important links on the document. This could be helpful videos, a link to your Quizlet, a link to your class page, a file folder, etc.
4. After that, type all notes that would be useful for the exam.
5. After you’ve included all the important notes, put some practice problems in there for yourself to practice.
6. Finally, engage with the study guide each day leading up to the exam.
Click here for an example of a study guide I made for my Math Lab class last year!
TIP 2: Make your own, personalized Quizlet two weeks in advance.
A Quizlet really helps me to remember everything I need to know for the exam. Once I’m done creating my study guide, I often copy and paste the important notes, practice problems, and key information into Quizlets. I used that study guide I linked above and put important information in Quizlets to study.
After making a giant Quizlet or several small Quizlets to study, use the LEARN mode to study the terms. The Learn mode helps me to remember the information word for word rather than just using the Flashcards. I use the Learn mode everyday leading up to the exam. When it gets to about 3 days until the exam, I use the Learn mode three times a day to ensure I remember the material!
TIP 3: Make a study plan two weeks in advance; make it realistic!
Another important resource I use is a study plan. To ensure that I use the study guide and the Quizlets I make, I make a day to day study plan leading up to the exam. This helps me engage with the material everyday and it ensures that I stay on task and don’t lose focus. In the past, I found myself making intricate, complex study plans that I couldn’t even complete because they were simply impossible! So, it’s important to know your limits and realistically study within them. Incorporate some healthy breaks in your study plans and don’t worry about making them super long and complex.
Click here to see an example of a study plan I made for my French final last year!
TIP 4: Purchase a white board and write important terms or redo your study guide for 3 days leading up your exam.
After typing the study guide and using Quizlets digitally for those two weeks, I like to use a whiteboard for the three days leading up to the exam. Something about rewriting important terms or redoing the study guide on the whiteboard helps me remember the information significantly more. In fact, it’s been scientifically proven that writing things down helps us remember it more. So, using the whiteboard each day for the three days leading up to the exam helps me retain the information really well and boosts my comfort and confidence for exam day.
TIP 5: Limit distracting apps until exam season is over…
This tip is the hardest one for me…I really love my HBO max, my Instagram, and my YouTube, but they distract me and cause me to waste valuable time that I could be using to study for my exams. So, for the two weeks leading up to exams and until they are completely over, I put screen limits on the apps that distract me. Luckily, since I’m busy studying, the weeks go by quickly and it’s a reward to get that screen time back after a lot of hard work.
TIP 6: Give yourself some rewards after the exams are over!
Perhaps the most valuable tip is to set a good reward for yourself after the exams are over. These rewards serve as huge motivators and push me to keep going through the exam season. Examples of rewards I’ve given to myself in the past include purchasing a new pair of shoes I really wanted, going to my favorite restaurant and getting all my favorite foods, going out for frozen yogurt with my friends, doing whatever I want for a week, etc. Knowing these rewards are waiting for me after the exam season motivates me to work as hard as I can until they’re all over!
When I was in freshman year and my first exam season approached, I was completely lost! But, I learned to use these tips and tricks and they brought me comfort and confidence for the exams. I hope these tips were helpful and please feel free to leave some of yours in the comments! I know each of you will be awesome during this exam season and I hope this helped!