How to study for exams

It is that time of the year, spring is in the air, the rains seem like they will NEVER stop.  The sun is shinning much brighter and the heat is setting in. In about a month it will be summer break. However, right now you find yourself  packed up with assignments, tests and looming finals.

First, me start with this. If you have worked hard this semester and your grades are looking good, good job! keep going. You should be proud of your efforts. If you worked hard this semester but your grades are not looking good. It’s okay, still be proud of your efforts! It is not the end of the world, hopefully we can figure out what’s going on and how to help you. If you didn’t do any work this semester and you are failing, well, hope you learned your lesson? plan to do better.

Just some few tips on how to ace your finals. The way testing is done in America is very different from most of our home countries. Hope these help:


Make sure you are paying attention in class but also make sure you know what assignments have the most points, what projects have the most marks and what part of the finals will carry the weight of the scores.  That’s one very fast way to raise your grade. Your professor ALWAYS gives you a syllabus and a rubric at the beginning of the semester. Use them.


Ask your professor what topics you should focus on. Look at your old test papers and if possible, ask your professor (politely) to explain  why you missed some points. Also ask what you could have done to get a better grade. Learning from your mistakes prevents you from making them again, if the same question appeared on your final.


If you can’t find one, make one. Something powerful happens when you study with smart, like-minded people as yourself. You learn from them but also build up your confidence and honestly it’s good to study with others. Make your study group  diverse (include people from different nationalities and cultures). A good study group size will consist of 4-6 people.


Do not overwhelm yourself. Yes, you have a lot to study but take it in bits and pieces. Do not be in such a rush to finish studying neither be scared of the amount you have to study. One chapter a day goes a long way. Think about how much you will get done if you started studying for the finals today! Start early.


Let your studying technique be similar to the question style on the final. By now you know your professor’s style of giving tests and exams. Also with the rubric you know  or at least have an idea of what topics you need to ace this final. Use that knowledge, Do not study like you are going to write an essay paper when you know it is all objective (multi-choice).


Of course you want to use resources like old test papers or even people who have taken that class prior, they can give you some tips. However, people study differently, do what works for you. If you study with music and you find it productive, study with music. Keep your positive study patterns. Do not try to study like someone else. Find your study pattern unique to you, find ways to make it more effective. An example: I can only study for a maximum of 1.5 hours before I loose focus. My sister who is an electrical engineer can study for 3 hours straight and maintain focus. I will be doing myself a disservice if I tried to study like her. Why? because our brains and personalities work differently. That is why I made sure in my 1.5 hours, I used study techniques that will give me the best results.


I wish you all the best!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s