Hey Lions! Exam season is less than a month away, we know you want to do your very best, and we want to help! The #YUBlog, in collaboration with Learning Skills Services (LSS), is here to help. LSS offers virtual workshops to help you achieve academic success: a great one for this time of year is their Exam Prep workshop. So, we partnered up with LSS Peer Academic Coaches Cindy and Aleeza to give you the low down on how you can effectively prepare for exams.
Organize yourself beforehand
Studying for exams does not mean going over just the lecture slides. Ensuring that you also go through your textbooks, notes, assignments and practice problems can help you score an A+. That means keeping your work organized and in one place.
“I make sure that my notes and practice problems are written and organized in a way that they are easily understandable,” said Aleeza. “t is also a good idea to summarize the notes. Instead of reading 70 pages worth of content, you can focus on five pages of core concepts and ideas.
Cindy’s Success Tip: While taking notes, it is a good idea to write them in your own words instead of transcribing the lecture slides or textbooks. Handwritten notes can help you retain more as compared to typed notes. However, if you are more comfortable typing, organizing your notes in neat folders would really help.
Start studying early
Ideally, you should be studying material throughout the term to reduce the need to spend too much time studying during the exam period. Regardless of how light or heavy your course work is, it is essential to give yourself enough time to learn and avoid cramming the week or the night before exams.
Cindy remembers cramming a lot before exams in her first year. “I didn’t give myself enough time. I gave myself a week before every exam to start studying. But then I realized that I had a lot of exams around the same time. And studying for four courses in one week was quite unrealistic and led to a lot of cramming. I’ve learned from those mistakes, and now I study throughout the semester.”
Aleeza’s Success Tip: Instead of just planning a general study schedule, plan what chapters you will focus on. If you need help creating a schedule, the LSS website has resources on time management and outlines of different types of planners, daily and weekly schedule templates and more.
Consult your syllabus
The course syllabus that you receive at the beginning of the term has the course outline and learning outcomes, giving you an idea of everything you need to learn.
According to Aleeza, connecting the big ideas that are mentioned in the syllabus is very helpful. “I really recommend making a mind or concept map of all the big ideas [in the syllabus] because that’s what exams usually focus on.”
Success tip: Keep an eye on instructors dropping hints of what is essential during lectures and tutorials. It is a good idea to make a list and focus on those topics as well.
Work on difficult topics first
Difficult topics can get quite overwhelming, especially during exam season. I don’t remember how many times I have skipped a topic just because it was too difficult to understand.
“Sometimes, when a concept is more difficult to understand, we tend to focus more on easier things. I would recommend tackling difficult concepts first so that you have time to understand them and then revisit the easier topics,” says Aleeza.
Cindy’s Success Tip: Make sure you’re not forgetting anything. This is, again, where the syllabus comes in handy. You can make a list and check off topics as you’ve completed them.
Choose a study method that works for you
Choosing a method that works for you personally will help you learn better. As Cindy says, the most common methods are visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning. Everyone has a different style.
“Visual learners can try mind maps, or drawing out notes, or colour coding because you can see it visually. Auditory learners can benefit from listening to the lecture again or reciting their notes back and forth. Kinesthetic learners associate movement with learning. They can combine their daily walks with studying. In general, you want to try mixing up your strategies. Even if you think you are a visual learner, try out some different techniques, because you just never know what really sticks. It’s really like testing out what you think works best for you.”
Aleeza’s Success Tip: Although everyone has a preferred style, it’s also not fixed. You may be a kinesthetic learner, but a mind map might benefit you more. So, it is a good idea to understand the material you’re given and find the best way to learn it.
If you need a more in-depth understanding of preparing for exams, and managing your time, register for the virtual LSS workshops that suit you best. If you are looking for one-on-one learning support, be sure to book an appointment with one of the Peer Academic Coaches. Unsure of whom to reach out to? The Learning Commons Virtual Welcome Desk will help you directly or refer you to the Learning Commons resource or service best suited to your needs.
Comment below with how you organize yourself for exams!
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