By Cecilia Lalama, Assistant Director for Mentoring and Outreach (firstname.lastname@example.org)
As much as the thought may make you want to run (you won’t get very far, given the size of
those snow banks out there); there’s nothing to fear if you take a few simple steps to study
smarter so you don’t have to study harder.
The single best thing you can do to prepare is to start way in advance.
The next best thing; be prepared by gathering all of your materials.
And then? Prioritize by topics you understand least to best. Finally, take a deep breath.
Here are some common sense study prep strategies:
1. Make a list of all the chapters, concepts and themes that you will be tested on, and identify your weak spots within that list.
2. See how many days out you are from the midterm. Plan to review a little bit from every subject each day. It’s easier to study ten chapters in ten days than it is in five days.
3. Prepare: Create study sheets, answer end of chapter questions, list predicted essay questions and outline, etc. Review: Read study sheets, redo “missed” problems, review formulas, etc. everyday right up until the day before the test.
4. In a 4-6 hour chunk of time, try 1.5 hours of studying, 10 minutes of review, a 5- minute break and repeat. Don’t study for more than 4-6 hours at a time. You’ll just burn out.
5. If test anxiety is an issue, try to take the unknown element out of the equation by taking a practice test at home in the time you would have to take the real midterm. That way, it won’t feel like you’re going through it for the first time when you walk into the classroom.
6. Study with classmates. See if you can take turns teaching each other concepts. If you can teach the material to others, you’ve mastered at least a portion of the subject.
7. Get 8 hours of sleep and eat good food (junk food will just slow you down, so go for healthy proteins, veggies and fruit). Making sure your body is nourished and fueled up can make a big difference in your cognitive abilities (the way that you learn).
8. Always read through the entire test before you begin. If possible, decide how much time you’re going to spend on each section and stick with your plan. Don’t miss the five easy multiple-choice questions on the very last page of the test.
9. Stay positive. If you don’t know the answer to Question #1, boost your confidence by answering Question #2 first. The next question may even give you a hint about the one that stumped you the first time around.
10. For essay tests, save incomplete answers for the end. Six incomplete essays will likely score you more points than three complete essays and three blanks.
11. For multiple choice tests, try covering up the answer choices and write down the answer in your own words if none of the choices look right. Uncover the choices and find the closest match to what you wrote down.
12. Reward yourself and leave any negative thoughts associated with the test behind you when you leave the room and move on with your life. Find something fun to do, either on campus or around town. You won’t have to look far to find cool things to do around Boston: http://www.bu.edu/today/.
The Educational Resource Center is located on the 6th floor of the Center for Student Services
at 100 Bay State Road. You can find our calendar, register for workshops or check out our
online workshops here: http://www.bu.edu/erc/workshops/