How To Study For College Exams

Don’t be surprised if your score for your first college exam is much lower than expected. In high school, you may have easily passed tests with flying colors, but college tests are much more difficult and professors expect more from students. Without studying, most students can’t pass college exams. Studies show that college graduates make, on average, $15,000 to $20,000 more as young adults than their counterparts with just high school diplomas or GEDs, so it pays to do well in school and eventually graduate.

Unfortunately, many high schools never teach their students good study skills. You may be at a loss as to where to even start, especially for subjects that you thought came naturally to you. Here are some great tips for studying for college exams:

Find a great study location. Your dorm room is a hub of activity, and even the library may not be the best option, especially around mid-term and finals weeks when everyone is trying to cram. Look for spots on campus that have low amounts of traffic, are comfortable and well-lit, and have space for you and your books and papers. This article can help you learn more about picking a great studying location.

Review material from the entire semester. Unless your professor specially tells you that the test will only cover certain parts of your course, be prepared to answer questions from the entire semester. If you don’t have good notes or missed a class, talk to other students in the class who may be able to help you review the information you’d otherwise forget.

Reread your assignments. Almost all professors assign reading of some kind. Even if you don’t go over this information in class, review it for the test. Some professors will use it, just to ensure that you’ve done the reading.

Join a study group. Avoid studying with your close friends if possible, since you’ll tend to get off track easily. Instead, find three or four people from your class who also want to study and help one another by explaining concepts and working through problems together. If you can explain something to someone else, chances are, you’ll remember it for the test.

Reduce your stress. The more stressed out your are, the worse you’ll do on an exam. That doesn’t mean that you should forget about your work and party every night. However, having personal time with friends can really help you do better with all of your work. In addition, it is important to stay organized. Stick to a schedule for work and play, clear out unnecessarily papers so that your class information is organized, and avoid procrastination. Here are some more great stress-relief tips.

Attend optional study sessions or office hours. Many professors offer optional study sessions before big exams. You don’t have to show up, but if you do, you’ll get insider information as to what will be on the test. If your professor doesn’t have study periods outside of typical class time, ask to see them during their office hours. More professors are more than happy to help guide your studying and answer questions if you make an appointment.


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