Student-to-student: Tips for scoring high on your exams

December 13, 2017 By Sara Griswold

Students hunker down inside Wendt Library to study for final exams. Photo: Bryce Richter

It’s just about here: Finals week.

To help you out, we’ve compiled a few tips from a variety of sources. Please note: The Greater University Tutoring Service has plenty of resources, including advice, tutors and workshops. But here are a few that have worked for me:

Know the test format

Don’t forget to ask your professor what you can expect for the layout of the exam. Knowing the format will help you to study. If the exam is focused on multiple choice and fill in the blank, you should practice flash cards and know the vocabulary, facts and dates. If the exam is more essay-based questions, practice writing essays about important topics that you have learned throughout the semester. Also be sure to know if the exam is cumulative or not.

Create a study schedule

Having a plan of how you are going to study is very important. Make sure it’s realistic and one that you can commit yourself to. Take into account all of your exams, spending more time on the ones that are more challenging or that you need to score higher on. Also, be sure to include study breaks throughout your days, as well as time for meals and to sleep.

Utilize materials from the professor

If you’re given a study guide or practice exam be sure to complete them throughout your studying time slots. These materials are crucial, as they were likely created by the professor who also wrote your exam.

Eat breakfast

The most important meal of the day! Whether it’s a bowl of oatmeal, eggs or peanut butter toast it will help you to stay focused and feel good throughout your entire exam. It will also help to improve your memory.

Chew gum

According to some studies, chewing gum will help you to concentrate, if you chew gum while you study and that same kind of gum in your exam. However, don’t let your gum chewing bother other test takers by popping bubbles and be obnoxious.

Get a good night’s sleep

Not only do you not want to fall asleep during your exam, but a good night of sleep will help retention of information. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the quantity and quality of the sleep you get throughout the days of study and the night before a big exam will help you with learning and remembering information.

Manage your time

Asking the professor in advance how many questions to expect can help you to prepare how much time you can allocate to each question. Spend more time on questions that are worth more points. Don’t overthink the easy questions — that will eat up your time. Wear a watch so you don’t have to search for a clock in the room or be tempted to look at your phone. If you are done early, cover up your answers and rework the problems to see if you get the same outcome.

Answer the questions you know first

Getting the questions that you know the answer to done first will give you confidence and momentum to push through the rest of the exam.

Go back to the tough questions

While you have been answering the easy questions, your subconscious brain has been thinking about the hard questions and trying to solve them. Circle any key words in the questions that you are still working to figure out. This will help your brain to focus on the main point of the questions and hopefully help you recall the correct answer.