How to Ace Your Next Exam in College

How to Ace Your Next Exam in College
By []Jay West

Think about this scenario for a moment:

“… Exams are about a week away and you are starting to feel slightly pinched because you wanted to start studying last week but you got so busy that you have not had an opportunity to start until know. You are secretly wondering if you will be able to cover everything in enough time to be able to feel confident before walking into the exam. You make a mental side note to leave Friday night open, just in case you need to squeeze in an all-nighter and catch up on sleep the next morning…”

Does this sound a lot like your life at the moment (or, what life was like last semester)? You’re not alone. So many students feel this way and soon enough, the pinch I describe above turns into a blatant slap and finally, the final stage where all of that stress turns into your vital energy being sucked out of you! This is usually the long and short of most students’ experience in college during exam time.

College life most certainly does not have to be this way.

Here are some immediate issues that I can identify with the above student… He or she:

Has not practiced good note taking throughout the semester
Has not reviewed daily
Does not practice good time management
Has good intentions but sabotages his/her chances for success

Understand this: exam preparation is occurring each and everyday that you’re in school – not simply during the weeks prior to an actual exam. As you work your way through a semester, you will be acting like a detective, so to speak, putting the pieces of a puzzle together. It is the act of putting these pieces together that will eventually prepare you for the final test. If you are actively engaged in the process earlier on (which means you must do all that leg work, daily review, etc.) then you will have a better outcome during exam time. You cannot substitute this learning process with catching up late in the semester/term or committing to all-nighters, hoping to squeeze all of that work (2-4 month’s worth) into a few pow-wow sessions.

So, how do you get an A (assuming you’ve done all the leg work prior to the two weeks leading up to exam day)?

Good question. I suggest you do the following:

1. Finalize your notes

Take your entire set of notes (and, they should be a complete set of notes that combine all the lecture notes with your own notes) and compile them into one, complete study guide. Use this study guide to teach the material back to yourself. You might even try to play the role of the professor, as if you have been charged with task of teaching the course material to a group of students. If their success depends on your instruction, how might you teach the material to them so that they have the greatest chance of succeeding in the course? This is how you’ll re-teach it back to yourself.

2. Practice

If you are taking a problem-based course, like math or some other applied course, then your study time should also be focused on doing a great deal of practice. In the case of a math course, after having gone through the entire semester (or term), you will know what sort of problems to expect on a test. Or, your professor will hint at what to focus upon. Just keep on drilling out answers to problems, especially the sort of problems that you know are likely to appear on tests and/or those that you have issues with.

In the case of a course that’s not geared like a math course, such as a philosophy course or an English class, spend plenty of time quizzing and recalling all the relevant material and in a way that is relevant. Allow me to illustrate what I mean by this…

If you are going to be subjected to plenty of long essay questions on an exam (perhaps it’s an English course you’ll be sitting for), test yourself accordingly by devising a list of several essay questions that are likely to appear on the exam and then answer them. You might even choose to time yourself so that you can emulate the same sort of conditions that you’ll be facing on exam day. If there will be more short answer and multiple choice questions, get your hands on practice tests and/or old exams and go through those as you time yourself.

Studying is a lot like training for a sport. If you want to run faster, you practice running. If you want to jump higher, you practice jumping. If you want to be able to skilfully navigate a soccer field, you practice the appropriate drills. You get the idea… The same applies with studying. Practice memorizing the material that is relevant AND in exactly the same way that you will be tested on it.

As you can see, exam preparation does not have to be as difficult or as stressful as you might think it should be. The fact is, if you have done all your preparation work before entering into the weeks before your exam, you will be able to breeze through all of the studying that you will have to do without any issue.

In his ground-breaking guide Easy-GPABooster, Jay West discusses his ‘two week slam’ studying strategy. With this method, you will learn how to blaze through your studying and score A’s on all your exams without stress! Read more about []how to study for exams at Jay West’s website, []

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