Friday, October 21, 2016

Studying for Tests

  1. Begin studying for a test by reviewing the course outline.
    • Check to see if the instructor has identified course goals. These will tell you what the instructor thinks the course is about. It is obviously helpful to know what the instructor believes are the important skills and concepts to be learned in the course, since these are likely to be the focus of the examination. (Where these do not closely match, one has good grounds for a grade appeal.)
    • Check the course outline for the list of required and optional readings for the portion of the course covered in the current test, and ensure you are familiar with these materials.
    • Check the course outline for web pages/Blackboard/WebCT/Moodle, podcasts, videos or other on-line materials for which you are responsible. Do not assume these will have been mentioned in class.
    • Check to see if the instructor has identified how the examination will be marked. Some instructors include scoring rubrics for written response questions within the course outline.
    • A few instructors may include essay examination questions in their course outlines; if they do, these should guide your note taking and course reading throughout the semester.
  2. Check your own notes to see if the instructor has identified particular concepts or skills as likely candidates for the test.
    • Always highlight in your notes any time an instructor says, “This will be on your test”. Always record any discussion of the examination or review of sample questions by the instructor.
    • Always ask your instructor what will be on the test; they will often tell you.
    • Ask to borrow notes from your peers for any classes you missed in case those were the classes in which the instructor discussed the upcoming examination, or reviewed key concepts and skills.
  3. Review the textbook and other required readings for the course.
    • Read the introduction and conclusion of each chapter to remind yourself what they are about. Quickly skim the introductory and concluding paragraphs of each section of the chapter; skim topic sentences of each paragraph of sections that you do not recall immediately. (This assumes you have actually read the material during the course.)
    • Use the table of contents and the index to identify key pages in the text or reading and concentrate on those sections most relevant to the course goals/topics, rather than re-reading the entire text word-for-word.
  4. Predict what will be on the test by asking yourself what you would put on a test to examine the knowledge and skills required in this portion of the course.
    • Some students find it useful to study with one or more peers so that they may quiz each other to identify strengths and weaknesses to more finely tune what they need to study further. For discussion courses, it is often useful to debate topics identified in the course outlines with peers prior to an examination to help identify relevant arguments and to strengthen one’s own position.
    • If the course includes another assignment that addresses some of the skills/knowledge taught in this portion of the course, these aspects may be downplayed on the examination; the examination is likely to emphasize those skills and concepts not already covered in the other assignment.

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