As a high school student, you have probably been taking final exams for at least a few years now. Final exams are a teacher’s method of measuring how much you have learned during the semester (or year) you spent taking a course. They usually cover all (or most ) of the material you have learned throughout a course, and can therefor be challenging. Because they often count a great deal towards your final grade, it is very important to do well on final exams. By establishing good study habits to use when preparing for a final exam, you will be able to take these demanding tests with confidence and be more likely to receive a grade you are happy with and proud of.
Even if you may feel like you’re ready, everybody needs adequate time to prepare for a test, and it may be difficult to guess how much you require. Cramming for a test, or leaving the studying to an intense block of time right before the test, might do you more harm than good. Psychological studies have shown that cramming for tests has the unintended effect of making students associate the knowledge of their subjects with specific environments and times. That means that if you cram, it may be harder for you to recall the information you studied so hard for without being in the same room at the same time as when you crammed. To be safe, it’s a good idea to start studying at least two weeks before the exam, so you have time to review previous material and assimilate the new lessons, too.
Organization is a big part of successful studying. It’s important to gather all of your materials, including your books, notes, and other studying tools before the big exam. Keeping them all in order and handy is a great way to make sure that you can reference and cross-reference your material. There are some, though, who suggest that the way you organize your material is best left up to you. Simply put, organize your materials in the way that works best for you. This will make your life a great deal easier when you get heavy into your studying.
Look over your past quizzes and tests for the course you are preparing for to determine what areas or topics you had trouble with. Look at the questions you got wrong for any patterns. If many are on the same topic, spend more time studying that topic than others you did well with. Knowing what your problem areas are before you start studying can save you a great deal of valuable time once you get into your studying. You will already know how best to spend your time, and will be less likely to waste time on topics you have already mastered.
Going over your notes and textbook are basic ways to help you relearn material, but you can also use visual learning techniques to learn problem material. Flash cards can help you learn material that you’ve been having problems with in a snap. You can also outline, list, diagram or use flowcharts to help you assimilate this information in an active fashion. It is interesting to note that some psychological studies have suggested that highlighting does not really help students who want to learn specific material. The researchers propose that highlighting is an not an active-enough learning activity for the information to remain fresh in a student’s head. Instead, try using one of the active studying methods listed above to help you learn and memorize material.
Listen for clues from your teachers. Sometimes instructors will let you know exactly what will be on a test beforehand. If this is the case, you’ll want to make sure you know these areas well and perhaps spend more time studying them than other areas. Look over your syllabus and your class notes to review the main themes of your latest lessons. Chances are that your teacher has been slowly building up to the test with his lessons, and the most important part of the test will be contained in lessons closest to the test date. Once you’ve determined what has the greatest chance of being on the test, list them on a piece of paper in order of importance, and use the list to help guide your test preparation.
Check the back of books for practice tests, if you are being tested on a particular chapter. The tests at the back of books often come with answers and, if you’re lucky, they’ll come with explanations, too. Use your visual learning techniques to keep a tally on what you’ve learned, and what you still need some help on. If you feel like you need some extra preparation, create your own practice tests to study from.
It can be difficult for a student who is worried about a test to finally put their books down. Sooner or later though, you’ll need to wrap up your studying. Before you put your materials down for the last time, skim over your notes, your books and the other studying materials you’ve created. Ask yourself if you’re really ready for the test, and give yourself an honest answer.
Make sure you get plenty of good sleep the night before the exam. That means not allowing the test to cause you anxiety and ensuring that you get at least eight hours of restful sleep. When you awake, eating a good breakfast can help make sure you aren’t distracted by stomach growling or hunger pangs during the big exam. Choosing to wear comfortable clothes can be to your benefit when you are sitting in the same position for an hour or more. Being comfortable will let you think easier and have an overall calming effect on you. Getting to the testing room early will make sure that you are present for any important announcements or test changes. It can also give you one last opportunity to ask your instructor any questions you may have. The simple act of arriving early can make you feel like you are prepared, in control, and may give you a little boost of confidence for the test.