Study Skills

Study Skills

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Test Taking Tips

Intellectual Preparation

1. Keep up with day-to-day assignments.  Review each week and begin intensified review one week before an exam.

2. Make a list and study definitions, principles, theories, formulas, ideas, concepts, people, dates, etc., as they apply to your particular course.

3. Ask yourself questions that you would expect the instructor to ask and be able to answer them.

4. Know whether the test will be of the essay or objective type and review accordingly.  The objective test stresses factual detailed knowledge, while the essay test stresses organization, relationships, and applications.

5. It is a good idea to keep old tests and analyze them for your weaknesses.  If you have specific questions, ask the instructor.

Mental and Physical Preparation

1. Look upon the test as a game which you are prepared to win and play the game the best you can.

2. Be reasonable in your self-expectations; no one should expect a perfect paper.

3. Get a good night's sleep and eat as you normally would.  A change in your regular routine could be upsetting.

4. Assemble any materials you will need (pencils, books, scratch paper, etc.) the night before and make sure you arrive at the test on time.  Nothing can rattle you more than being late and missing some vital instructions.  On the other hand, don't arrive so early that you find yourself congregating with other students who are discussing the test.  You may get confused and flustered by this last-minute cramming.

Objective Tests

1. Know Your Material.  Review regularly both your textbook readings and classroom notes.  Organize the material so that details are arranged under major topics and you can understand principles and relationships.

2. Follow Directions.  You may be asked to do only parts of a test:  for example A or B.  Pay attention to words such as either, or, choose, one or more.  Be sure that the symbols you use are the ones the instructor has asked for (for True/False you could be asked to use T or F, + or -, R or W, etc.).

3. Know the Scoring Formula.  Some questions may be given more weight than others.  Determine if this is so on your test and concentrate on the questions which are worth more points.  In addition, determine if wrong answers are deducted from right answers.  If they are it means that you are penalized for random guessing.  Guessing can be valuable if it is based on partial elimination or a very strong hunch.  If you are not penalized for guessing, guess freely.  If you are, guess only with caution.

4. Budget Your Time.  Look over the test and see how long it is.  Decide about where you should be at the halfway point in the allotted time.  If you can, do the easier parts first.  This will build your confidence and make sure that you complete the questions you are sure of.  Don't spend a great deal of time with very difficult questions at the beginning of the test.  You may be more inspired when you come back to them.  Leave time at the end to go back over your paper to be sure you have followed directions and have not left out anything.  Be careful about changing answers.  First choices are usually correct.

Essay Tests

1. Study the question and determine exactly what you are expected to answer.  Note particularly directions such as compare, contrast, describe, and illustrate.  Also determine if the answer is to be short (one paragraph) or long (given in pages or number or words).  Note if you are to explain someone else's theory or give your own interpretation.

2. Take a few minutes to think about the topic.  More time spent in thinking will result in a better organized, more readable paper.

3. Make an outline.  Jot down in list form all facts, phrases, and general ideas that you can remember about the particular topic.  Look over the list and sort it into major and minor points.  Then number them so that all items are in logical order.  Underline ideas you will want to expand in your writing.  New ideas can be inserted into the framework as they occur to you.  The outline should be simple and brief; it is only a guide for your writing.

4. Write from the outline.  Include all pertinent information but avoid padding.  Illustrations are good to include and are better if they come from your own experience, rather than right out of the textbook.  Use major points as headings if it will make the paper more readable.

5. Be careful to make your writing legible and to be as accurate in your spelling and punctuation as you possibly can.

6. As you write, leave space between paragraphs so that you can add important ideas if they occur to you later.

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