Year-End Exams are Right Around the Corner: How to Prepare

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It’s soon time to plan for year-end exams. But before getting too wrapped up in the Periodic Table of Elements or quadratic equations, look at the big picture and strategize to score your best.

Know the territory

Quickly learn each exam date and mark your calendar accordingly. Next, answer these questions to determine what’s at stake:

  • How critical is the exam score to your course grade and future plans? The answer can help you maintain perspective and manage stress. Prioritize your test prep time proportionate to the exams’ importance and the effort needed to master the content.
  • Is the scope of each exam all-year comprehensive, current semester only, or just since the last exam?
  • What answer types will be sought? Whether it’s essay, calculation, true/false or other, knowing the expected answer types will shape your preparations.

Implement your best learning style

You likely know what study methods work well for you. Does silence, music or ambient noise feed you or distract you? Will you study alone, or, will you convene a study group to divide, conquer and reconnect the pieces to get up to speed? If it’s a study group, keep it manageable with perhaps 3-5 total students, and clearly define deadlines and deliverables.

Know the tools of the trade

Using available tools wisely will contribute to your success. Ask your instructor if study guides or prior years’ tests are available. If the exam is open-book style or technology-permissible, create an outline to guide your answer-execution skills, and confirm that your apps or online-accessible resources are current. From the get-go, use a calendar to plan and guide your study time. Your phone likely has a calendar app; Gmail’s calendar provides easy color-coding of study times and milestone by subject. If you need additional help, consult a tutor, recent graduate or knowledgeable grad student.

Minimize distractions

With test dates known, it’s buckle-down time. Although you may worry how you’ll fit exam prep into your already busy schedule, turn that upside down and make exam prep the rule, not the exception by:

  • Reducing screen time and social media usage to a “need to know” level
  • Putting unnecessary activities on hold
  • Requesting schedule flexibility or relief if you have a job
  • Creating a dedicated space at home, where you can easily come and go, study and pick up where you left off

Think repetition, not competition

It’s only natural to wonder how your exam scores may compare to fellow students’, however, that’s neither productive nor purposeful. Instead, focus on what you control - your time and concentration commitment. Review until the correct answers become habit. Know that excellence results from subject mastery and repetition, whether in music, athletics or other endeavors, and the same applies to achieving outstanding exam scores.

Although the school year-end is the destination, don’t overlook exam preparation along your educational journey.

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