Kick Butt on Your Exams

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For students in the Lower Mainland, semester-end exams and midterms are just around the corner. Taking tests can always be a little nerve-racking, but if you’re prepared you will be confident and write the test without (too much) hair-pulling and stressing. How do you do it?

Prepare in advance:
Leaving all your studying to the night before is never a good idea. Sure, many senior students and university students swear by cramming. The material you absorb the night (or morning!) before a test is registered as short-term memory and you’ll be able to remember some of it for your test.
But if you’ve been studying in advance, even for a few days, the material will be locked in your long-term memory and you’ll have a much easier time recalling it.
Also, preparing in advance and dividing up the amount of material you study over a few days is a whole lot less stressful than trying to absorb it all the day or night before.

Form a study plan.

It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Just figure out how you’re going to divide up your material, and for which classes, and jot it down in an agenda or on your smartphone. Plan to study math for a few hours, then science for a few hours, and then English tomorrow, for example.
Study actively

Studying is more than just rereading your notes (I wrote about this in an early post last November – check it out here). Interact with your material. Go over your notes and textbooks with a highlighter, make notes in the margins or on a separate piece of paper. Just the act of writing will help lock the material into your memory. Make connections between the different concepts you’ve learned.
Take practice tests
Testing yourself, and getting used to the types of questions typically asked in exams, will help you succeed. If possible, get your hands on old versions of tests. If you’re taking a provincial exam in BC, you can access past versions of the exams here, with answer keys: http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/exams/search/
If you’re not taking a provincial exam, ask your teacher if it is possible to have an older test to practice with. Doing one or more older tests as practice, and going over your answers, is guaranteed to boost how well you do on the actual test.
Get a good rest the night before
As mentioned in the first post, avoid cramming and studying late into the night before a big test. This always used to trip me up. I would often stay up late studying, trying to get as much information into my head before the exam. The result was I would be so exhausted when I wrote my test that recalling the information I’d studied was a challenge. As was thinking critically and creatively – which is important when writing tests.

You’re going to do a whole lot better on your test if you went to bed at a decent hour and woke up feeling rested and alert. You’ll also feel a whole lot more positive as well. Make sure you eat a good meal before your test.
And finally…
Remember that tests and exams are meant to gauge your knowledge of all the material you’ve learned. If you’ve kept up with your studies, you’re already halfway there.
So, as you’re waiting to start that test, relax, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that you’ve got this. Good luck!

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