Ideally, the way to study is to do it every single day, even if the actual exam is a few weeks or even months away. Through this approach, the lessons will be stored not just in your short-term memory (to be forgotten after the exam), but also in your long-term memory. The lessons will thus become second nature to you. If this isn’t possible, however, and the exam is just a few days or hours from now, the next best thing is to study strategically. One of the ways to do this is by preparing an exam study sheet.
- Stick to the coverage of the exam. Think of it as setting boundaries for your review. Have an outline of the exam coverage and mark the relevant pages in your book. You should also take about five minutes to study how the exam concepts are related to one another. This will help you put all the topics of the exam into context, and will also help you remember facts and information that are connected with each other.
- Construct an outline of the study sheet. This outline will basically be lifted off the exam coverage. A recommended way to do this step is to assign one page in your notebook for each topic in the test. As you browse through your notes, you could write down important ideas and information on the page with the appropriate heading. This is an especially good technique if you are using more than one resource while studying.
- Study the end-of-chapter summaries of your book. Flip through the chapter summaries and you might find the most important ideas highlighted and defined there. Copy these down into your exam study sheet. This is a great technique if you’re especially pressed for time, so you wouldn’t have to pore over the entire chapter anymore.
- Try to think like your teacher. This move requires high levels of critical thinking and a bit more effort on your part, but this could have high pay-offs if done correctly. Think back on your teacher’s teaching styles and try your best to put yourself in his position. What ideas did he highlight during his lectures? What types of questions was he fond of asking? If you’re taking a Social Studies test, for example, try to remember if your teacher is fond of asking questions such as what the effects of a particular event are, or how two important events are related with one another. Of course, trying to deduce the questions from your teacher’s point of view will work only if your teacher constructs the test himself.
- Ask. Don’t hesitate to ask your teacher not just the coverage of the exam, but some tips on how you could do well. You might even ask what particular topics will be highlighted, and what type of test he will give (such as how many questions are multiple choice, how many are essay-type, etc). Remember: a truly good teacher will want you to do well on his exam, too.
Preparing an exam study sheet is best done strategically and systematically. If you use your critical thinking and deduction skills to create your study sheet, you’d be even better prepared to take your exam using these same skills. Good luck!