Unless you’re made of stone, you’ve probably experienced that familiar thrill of shock and fear when you realize how quickly a college exam can sneak up on you. You may not have needed to study for all of those pop spelling quizzes throughout grade school, but higher learning is a decidedly different animal. Learning how to budget your time and effectively prepare for exam day is going to be critical to your success as you make your way through college. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
It’s Never Too Early
First and most importantly, always remember that preparing for your exams, particularly the finals, should begin on the very first day of class. Whether you’re a freshman at an Ivy League university or you’re attending one of the nation’s top online schools, making the most of your professors’ daily lectures will greatly improve your life down the road.
Perhaps most importantly, you’re going to want to keep detailed and organized notes. Remember to write the date at the top of each new page so that you can refer back to them later on.
Participate in Class
That said, don’t get so distracted with your notes that you forget to be an active participant in class. If there’s something you don’t understand fully, don’t hesitate to ask. If you have an original thought, don’t be afraid to share it. Actively participating in class will help you to not only understand the course material better, but also to retain the information better. Just as importantly, professors always appreciate thoughtful and attentive students; it can’t hurt to gather a little bit of good will early on.
Don’t Forget About Office Hours
Most colleges require professors to maintain office hours where they’ll be available outside of the classroom for students to ask them questions or go over course material that they don’t fully understand. You’d do well to make the most of this time. While we told you above not to be afraid to ask thoughtful questions in class, more complicated questions are best saved for office hours, where you can discuss difficult concepts in greater detail with your professor.
If you happen to be a student at an accredited online college, the concept is much the same, with the exception that you won’t need to physically walk anywhere. The best online instructors will be only too happy to reply to your emails if you need to discuss or further clarify something they covered in class.
Don’t Underestimate a Good Night’s Sleep
You’ve heard it all before, but it bears repeating: get a good night’s sleep not only on the night before your exam, but every night. If you’re exhausted when you go to take an exam, you’re much more likely to make careless mistakes that you wouldn’t normally make.
It’s all come down to this. You’ve studied your notes in your highly organized notebook, you’ve gotten eight hours of sleep every night this week, talked through your questions with your professor after class, and now you’re getting ready to sit the exam.
You’re not home free even now. No matter how thoroughly you’ve prepared for the exam, a bit of apprehension is only natural. Remember: keep calm and work slowly and deliberately on the exam. There’s no reason to rush and no reason to panic.
At the end of the day, remember this: preparing for an exam is more about adopting a certain mindset than it is about cramming the night before.
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