Exam Preparation

Be Prepared and Know What You're Getting Into

Long Term Preparation

  • Attend classes, do assignments, stay up-to-date in the course 
  • Make notes and review notes regularly throughout the semester 
  • Make sure you know what the expectations are for the course. e.g. look at the teacher’s course outline and the program of studies for the course from the Alberta Education website 
  • Establish a “homework space” – away from distractions - what would a homework space look like? 
  • Establish a peer study/homework group – use it to go over what you don’t fully understand

Early Review

  • Ask yourself what you already know, focus on areas you need to review. 
  • Direct most of your study time towards your weakest subjects. Force yourself to study what you don’t understand. 
  • Take advantage of professionally prepared review materials such as Alberta Ed’s diploma guides for students, the Key, teacher prepared review sheets, textbook review questions, etc. 
  • Use a variety of methods to learn/review materials - use as many of your senses as you can 
  • Visual – read over notes, make flash cards (definitions, formulae, dates, events, etc), rewrite information/notes using different colors, build concept webs
    Auditory/Verbal - repeat information out loud (or subvocalize – repeat to yourself under your breath), explain it to someone else, study/discuss with others 
  • Tactile/Kinesthetic – Make notes when you read, underline or highlight or circle important information, pace/walk as you study, draw pictures or maps or charts or webs with key information

Final Review 

  • Spread your review over several days before the exam (e.g. 5 units – take 6 days – 1 unit per day, 1 day for final review of all 5 units)
  • Overlearn – keep studying even after you know it, this is useful if you get nervous during exams 
  • When reviewing review for 40-50 minutes with 5-10 minute breaks

Before the Exam – to Reduce Nervousness

  • Check/double check the day and time of the exam 
  • Try and get a good night’s sleep, set your alarm 
  • Eat a healthy breakfast - foods which have been shown to play a role in enhancing memory include fish, meat, egg yolks, soy, oatmeal, rice, peanuts, pecans 
  • Avoid processed foods high in sugar, salt, saturated fat (junk food/pop) 
  • Arrive early so you aren’t rushed 
  • Avoid discussing the exam at the last minute 
  • Bring all materials (calculator, pencils, erasers, fresh batteries, erasable pen, ruler) 
  • Wear ear plugs if noise bothers you 
  • Wear layers (sweater, vest), gym/classroom can be cold 
  • Select a spot which minimizes distractions (e.g. sit away from the door or sit near the front so you can’t see people behind you) 
  • Bring tissues, water bottle

During the Exam

  • Close your eyes, take several deep breaths from your belly, ignore  other people, think about relaxing your hands, say something positive to yourself 
  • Listen to and/or read all directions before you begin 
  • Skim over whole test and
    • Do a Splashdown – jot down key words, dates, memory triggers, formulae, special information you can use 
    • Budget your time – allow more time for questions that are worth more marks or are less familiar 
  • Read all questions twice 
  • Pay attention to words in bold or italics 
  • If there is a word you can’t read or don’t understand, read around it and ask “what word would make the most sense here?” 
  • Start with questions you find easiest to answer, it builds confidence 
  • Omit questions you can’t answer – mark them with an * and come back to them when you have finished other questions 
  • Try not to leave any question unanswered. If you don’t know the answer, make a BEST guess. 
  • Highlight or underline important words in the questions 
  • If you are asked for more than 1 type of information, number/underline each type you must include:
    e.g. Explain (1) the causes of the French Revolution. Tell (2) which cause was most important and why (3)
  • For questions which have more than one step, jot down notes for each step of the question on scrap paper 
  • Talk through the steps in your head or subvocalize: “First I have to find out…..then I take that number and….then I need to …” 
  • Remember to do your BEST. That is all anyone can ask of you.

Websites Offering Advice for Studying:

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