College Exams? Don’t Panic!

Got your first college exam coming up? It’s time to assess your study skills and figure out which methods work best for you. Read on to learn about a few methods I’ve utilized while studying at the University of Rochester.

Woman studying

Create a master notebook
Integrate your notes from class with your notes from the textbook to create a master notebook with all the key information. That way you’re sure to have included everything relevant to the topic. Sometimes your professor will specify if the textbook or the lecture notes take priority. Otherwise, it is safe to assume you need a strong understanding of both.

Study in groups
Bouncing questions and answers off one another is a great strategy to commit information to memory. Sometimes a friend can describe a concept to you in a way that just sticks! Plus you can make sure that you have the correct answers. Rush Rhees Library was renovated just this past summer for new spaces to collaborate with friends.

Read aloud
If your final for a class is a paper, try reading your draft out loud to yourself. You’ll catch small mistakes that your eyes skim over when you’re reading silently. You can also head over to the Writing Fellows (peer tutors) to help you perfect your papers or any writing projects you have. As a freshman, I visited the Writing Fellows a few times and worked one-on-one with a peer tutor. It was helpful to just orally explain the ideas I wanted to express in my paper, and it definitely clarified my thesis statements. Learn more about how Writing Fellows can help you.

Teach a friend
Give your parents a call or enlist a friend to be your student. They don’t even have to listen! Explaining certain concepts, historical events, methods, etc. in your own words can help you commit the topic to memory.

Find the right level of distraction for you
Do you need complete silence while you study? Do you need background noise? Do you need music with lyrics or without lyrics? Do you need to be in a cubicle by yourself? Do you need to be isolated from diversions like Starbucks breaks? The answers to these questions certainly depend on your preferences, your discipline, your specific assignment, and its due date. Determine which setting will help you to complete your assignments in a timely fashion! The study spots at the libraries on campus can suit all levels of distraction. You can test out each one to find how much distraction is best for you.

Email your TA or professor
Do your background research first, but if you still need clarification on a certain topic, there are experts: your teaching assistant (TA) and your professor. They are clearly experienced in the subject and will know how to tweak your understanding to correspond with your upcoming exam. Forget Google or Wikipedia—you have real-life experts to consult instead.

Hope you found these tips inspiring! Comment your study tips below!

About the author

Charlotte Pillow

I am a member of the Class of 2019. I am originally from Ridgewood, NJ. I am a student in the Dual Degree in Nursing program. I am majoring in nursing, public health, and interdisciplinary dance studies, and minoring in psychology. I am the president of the College Diabetes Network and a research assistant at the School of Nursing. For the 2017 spring semester, I studied public health at the University of Oxford.

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