Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Study Tips + Test Taking Strategies

Guess what's just around the river bend? That's right, finals. As soon as you begin getting hyped up for the end of the school year, we are reminding of that daunting obstacle standing in the way between us and the sensational summer. To help you get through this devastating and stressful time, I have complied some study tips and test taking strategies that I use.

Make practice tests. I used to do this quite often, I would write my own tests based on the topics that the actual test is going to be on. By making these questions, it helps me review. Later, I'll go back and answer the questions and/or ask someone else to read me the questions and quiz me. This is a time consuming task and it works better for some people than others.
Take lots of detailed notes. This seems like a simple concept, but for me, taking notes isn't just for remembering the information for later, so that I can study from them later, but I used note taking itself to study. When I take notes, I always go into intense detail, and in this way, I can remember the information by writing it all down. The act of writing down the information helps me to obtain it. I like to take detailed notes during class and sometimes even out of the textbook in addition to the class notes.
Color code the text. While annotating, I find that the best thing to do is to color code it. I'll create various groups depending on the subject and give each one its own color. For example, while going through a historic article, I'll have one color for dates, one color for important events, and another for important people. This is definitely time consuming, but it makes it easier for going back through the text and helps you to process the information better.
Take time on essay planning. I'm aware that not all tests have essays, but if you do have an essay on a test or you just have one to do, I highly suggest to take your time while planning out your essay. I spend a lot of time organizing all of my thoughts and deciding on how I plan to format it, because if you make a rash decision on the discussion points of your essay and later decide to change it, you might not have the time for that. If you think carefully about what you specifically plan to write in your essay, you're more likely to come out with a well rounded essay because it'll likely be more coherent and thoughtful.
Pace yourself during test taking. I find that the most stressful tests are the tests where there is a limited time that you likely cannot reach. When there's a time limit, I always get super stressed and have trouble concentrating because I'm worried about the time. On tests that I know I'm going to have to rush through, I try and plan a certain amount of time for each test portion so that I can actually finish the test. If I don't know an answer, I won't waste any time, I'll skip it and come back to it later if I have the time.
Highlight your test. As a visual learner, colors and pictures always make it easier for me to understand concepts. Although highlighting notes doesn't do much for me, I find that highlighting my test does wonders. I know that many tests have separate answer and question booklets, but for any test where you are able to write directly on it, I have my highlighters ready. I use this strategy while taking my tests for Spanish. I highlight key words, vocabulary that I don't know, instructions, words that link together, and other things as well. By the time I turn in my test, it's filled with a plethora of colors.

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