Professor of Geography
first question to ask yourself is,
"if I were given an open notes exam, would I be able to answer all of
questions correctly?" No studying strategy will be effective if you do
not have all the material from which to study. There is no substitute
attending class and taking good notes.
But let's assume
you have been attending class
and have all the class notes -- what can you do to prepare for the
exam? Here are some suggestions that you may find useful.
- Don't Cram. You may find that in
everything "makes sense" as you are hearing it. Come the night before
exam, however, you find that there is a lot of material to
and what made perfect sense at the time is less clear now. It is much
better to look over your notes frequently; then when it's time to study
more intensively as the exam approaches, you won't be starting "from
- Another benefit from looking over your
is that you can identify quickly those points that may be unclear after
lecture. Since new material builds upon previous class discussions, it
is important to clear up any questions quickly. Don't hesitate to ask
questions about the material that has been presented in class (it shows
me that you're interested!). This way the new material will make sense,
and fit in with what you've already learned.
- Know what material is being tested, and
percentages comes from lecture, texts, readings, etc. Your study time
reflect these percentages.
- Does this sound familiar? The exam is in
two, and you are reading over your notes for the 97th
time. But by now, you are just seeing words on the page, and nothing
is "sinking in." Is this study time really productive? What can you do
about it? Try taking on a more active approach: The lectures are
presented in an outline format, in which the key topics are presented,
along with the secondary points needed to "build" the outline. First of
all, do you understand the logic of the outline? Do you understand the
importance of key points I, II, and III, and why points A, B, C, and D
are critical to understanding point I? "Memorization is secondary to
It is important to learn the concepts and the processes (the important
stuff), not just the definitions of terms. OK, now as far as studying
this outline, cover your notes. Can you recall the key points? Do you
I and II, but always miss III? Do you remember and understand how
A, B, C, and D "come together" under key point I? Study the things you
don't know well more intensively.
These are just a
few suggestions that you might find
useful, but remember there are probably as many learning styles and
strategies as there are students in the class. For additional ideas,
might want to check in with the Academic
Center on the first floor of Alden Library (593-2644).
The Center can help in developing skills and attitudes for successful
and upon request provides free instruction in reading, writing,
study skills, and even word processing. And if you feel overwhelmed
other issues, either related to your University work or otherwise, be
that Counseling and Psychological Services might be able to offer
They are located on the third floor of Hudson
Health Center (593-1616).
- You also may find it useful to "take
notes. This could help to isolate the major points from lecture if your
class notes seem to ramble a bit, or if you just want a condensed
Notes" version of your notes to look over before the exam, after you
already studied the more detailed information.
well you do on an exam will be
reflected in the amount of time you put into the course. Hopefully some
of these ideas will help you get "more bang for your study-time buck."
Finally, remember to get a good night's sleep before the exam, and eat