Oct 032011
Authors: Jordan Kurtz

Yesterday, Neely Clapp, a graduate student of education and ecology, facilitated a filled-to-capacity “Test Taking Strategies” workshop.

Students eager to learn how to deal with the dreaded mid-term exams had to be turned away at the door for the TILT hosted event, which quickly reached capacity.

Clapp said if students took anything away from his lecture, he would like for them to become actively engaged in the material.

“Be an active learner. Engage in the material actively and early,” Clapp stressed.

The workshop covered test preparation strategies, as well as test-taking strategies, which students who attended felt were very helpful.

“I learned things that I didn’t know. I learned some new tips,” said junior engineering major Ryan Johnson.

TILT representative Christie Yeadon said there will be a similar workshop on Oct. 15 in the Corbett Lounge from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Yeadon said more information can be found at tilt.colostate.edu/learning and by clicking the “study skills” link.

Clapp’s tips to staying on top of midterms:

Before the Test

Pay attention in class. In most courses, points heavily emphasized by instructors will be likely exam material.

Start studying at least a week in advance of the exam. This will give you plenty of time to strategize what it is that you need to study. You reduce test anxiety when you have adequately prepared yourself in advance.

Do NOT cram! Studying only the night before or day of the exam is never enough. Your brain can only synthesize so much information at one time, making the retention rate of the studied information significantly lower than studying in advance.

Practice good time management. Block out time in your schedule for work/class/exams/eating/sleeping/etc. and choose how you spend your remaining time wisely.

Study the most difficult material first. Spend more time actively engaging yourself in material that you find difficult, but do not spend so much time on these subjects that you do not have time to study everything else.

Find out about the exam. Ask your professor:

  • How many of each type of question?
  • How many points is the exam with?
  • How much time do you have to take the exam?

Study your in-class notes. Re-writing your notes in your own words aids the processes of synthesizing and replicating information.

Use flash cards. They are a great tool to study key terms, formulas, dates, etc.

Study with others. Form study groups with your peers that are doing as well as, or better, than you in the course.

Use all available resources. Most textbooks have review items or practice test questions. Check the test library in the Lory Student Center for past exams. Ask your professor for example questions.
Choose a study spot. Find a place that you are comfortable studying (i.e. library, coffee shop, etc.), in which you are removed from external stimuli.

Get enough sleep! When you are sleep deprived, the function of your memory is impaired.

Stay healthy. Studies have shown that exercise and proper diet can increase your memory function by 20 percent.

On test day:

  • Bring all the materials you might need.
  • Sit in your normal seat if possible.
  • Do not arrive to the exam too early.
  • Take deep calming breaths and say positive affirmations to yourself.

Collegian writer Jordan Kurtz can be reached at news@collegian.com

Taking an exam

  • Read all of the questions first. This will allow you to budget time to answer each section. You will also see which portions of the exam are worth the most points.
  • Write down memorized mnemonic devices, formulas, etc. in the margins right away.
  • Be cognizant of signifiers. Look for “all the above” types of answers; this usually is a clue that multiple answers are sufficient responses. Also, look for questions with the word “except.” These types of questions often confuse test takers because they do not read the question completely.
  • If you must guess on a multiple-choice question, choose “C.”
  • When writing an essay, create an outline for your response. This will give you structure to your response, which can allow you to add depth to key concepts.
  • Answer every question. Even if you do not have the slightest idea about what the answer is, respond to the question anyway. In some cases, you may receive partial credit for attempting to answer the question.
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