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How to get practice for exams with little methods of exam practice??

How can I improve in exams? I find them really hard to revise for since we are only given lecture content and past papers (with no answers) to revise from. In previous stages of education I found it much easier to revise by repetition of practice questions.

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Emma’s Answer

Hi Joshua!

This is a great question and something that I think a lot of us deal with as we head into higher education. Lecture based classes where the main content is found on slides means you have little extra material to work with. I'm someone who gets a lot of benefit out of practice questions as well. This is what I found to be helpful in college for harder to study for classes:

1. Making quizlets (my own practice questions) - is a great resource that allows you to make your own flashcards and it has various methods of studying them such as matching, flipping through, reading them out loud, etc. I would make quizlets with more close ended type content I found in my lecture notes.
2. Re-writing - I know it sounds silly, but sometimes reading back over your notes, and rewriting them in your own words with your own understanding can help so much. For the more open ended content and big concepts that I would take notes on in class, to study, I would read them back and put them in my own words. It helps to imagine yourself having to teach the concept to someone else.
3. Meeting with the professor/TA - This is especially helpful if you have never taken a class with the specific professor before. Set up a quick meeting with them and see if they have any advice for studying for their class or what they recommend for success. Generally, professors are more than happy to engage with students and meet with them 1:1 and help them with their success in the class. It will not only get you good advice, but you will be networking as well and fostering a positive relationship.

I hope some of this helps! I know it can be frustrating to not be able to use the same study methods as you're used to. It is all about trial and error and seeing what works best for you. Best of luck!
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much Emma! I wish I had this advice so much earlier! I'd been trying other methods and failing but I'll try and finish 3rd year with what you've given me! Joshua
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Andrew’s Answer


Emma gave you some good tips. I will share some of my own.

- Review past tests and learn what mistakes you made. If you did not understand the material fully, you want to spend more time on what you missed or what concepts you need to review. There is a good chance the final exam will include questions/material on past tests.

- Find a study group or student in your class. If you know someone in the class who is getting good grades, ask if they are willing to study with you or if you can work with them.

- Look if there is online material/content that goes with that textbook. Some textbooks offer supplementary material such as study guides or videos for online learning.

- Adapt learning to your preferred style. Are you a visual learner, reading/writing, or other? For Visual, you want to use pictures, graphs, diagrams, and others to understand and learn new ideas.

Summary of the types:

- Review your note taking methods to check for clarity. Does it summarize main points? Is it clear and easy to read?
If you want to try new method, try the Cornell Note Taking. Please see link for info:

- Avoid cramming last minute studying for exams. In general, it takes some time for your mind to understand and master the concepts. Also, studying last minute adds more pressure/stress on your mind and can affect your sleep before the exam.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much, Andrew! Joshua
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James Constantine’s Answer

Dear Joshua,

Section 1: Tactics for Efficient Exam Preparation

Boosting your exam scores involves crafting successful study tactics tailored to your needs. Here's a guide to help you:

1. Grasp the Exam Layout and Expectations

Begin by familiarizing yourself with the exam's framework, including the question types, grading system, and time limitations. This insight will enable you to customize your study plan effectively.

2. Segment Your Study into Digestible Parts

Split your syllabus into smaller, digestible parts and concentrate on each topic individually. This method simplifies information absorption and retention.

3. Develop Study Tools Aligned with Your Learning Style

Craft study aids that align with your learning style. For instance, if you're a visual learner, use diagrams or flowcharts. If auditory learning suits you, consider recording yourself explaining topics or use memory aids.

4. Schedule Consistent Study Sessions

Allocate consistent time for studying, preferably daily instead of last-minute cramming. This regular habit strengthens memory retention and minimizes stress.

5. Regularly Evaluate Your Progress

Frequent self-evaluation through quizzes, flashcards, or practice tests helps pinpoint areas needing improvement and monitors your progress.

6. Ask for Assistance When Necessary

If you find certain topics challenging, don't hesitate to seek help from your teachers, peers, or tutors. They might provide alternative explanations or resources that can enhance your understanding.

Section 2: Tackling Difficulties in Exam Preparation

With limited resources at your disposal, here are strategies to conquer this hurdle:

1. Leverage Online Resources

Tap into free online resources like educational websites, YouTube tutorials, or forums related to your subjects. These platforms often provide supplementary explanations and examples to enhance your notes.

2. Partner with Classmates

Create study groups with peers to debate difficult topics, exchange notes, and quiz each other. This collaborative learning approach can improve comprehension and knowledge retention.

3. Connect with Professionals

Engage with experts in your field of study through social media, forums, or industry events. They might provide valuable insights, advice, or even sample questions to aid your preparation.

Section 3: Enhancing Study Techniques Using Practice Questions

Despite the lack of answers in past papers, there are still ways to improve your study techniques:

1. Examine Past Papers

Even without answers, scrutinize the structure and question types in previous exams. This insight will help predict potential exam questions and focus your study plan.

2. Generate Your Own Practice Questions

Based on your course knowledge, create practice questions similar to those anticipated in the exam. Respond to these questions and revisit them later to gauge your understanding.

3. Share Practice Questions with Classmates

Exchange your self-made practice questions with peers and discuss possible answers. This collaborative method can offer different viewpoints and reinforce your subject understanding.

Section 4: Reliable References

To further aid your exam performance enhancement, consider these trustworthy resources:

Psychology Today: Provides articles and expert perspectives on various learning, memory, and test-taking strategies. Used here for insights into efficient study techniques.
Study Hacks: A blog dedicated to practical student tips, tools, and resources for optimizing learning experiences. Used here for ideas to tackle exam preparation challenges.
The Princeton Review: A renowned test preparation company offering extensive resources, including practice tests, study guides, and tutoring services. Used here to discover ways to enhance study techniques with limited resources.

In summary, enhancing your exam performance involves a blend of efficient study tactics, tackling challenges with limited resources, and improving your practice question techniques. By employing these methods and referencing reliable resources, you can elevate your confidence and achieve superior exam results.

James Constantine Frangos.
Thank you comment icon God bless, James! Thank you Joshua
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Rosaline’s Answer

Improving in exams can be simpler than you think, even with just lecture content and past papers. Here’s a streamlined approach to make studying more effective and less overwhelming:

  1. Deeply understand the material. Engage with your notes actively. Summarize them in your own words, quiz yourself, and explain concepts to a friend.

  2. Create your own practice questions. Since past papers don't come with answers, challenge yourself by creating questions based on your notes. This prepares you for potential exam questions.

  3. Practice regularly with a system. Use techniques like spaced repetition and flashcards for memorizing facts. Break down your study sessions into focused periods with short breaks in between, such as using the Pomodoro Technique.

  4. Simulate exam conditions. Practice with past papers under timed conditions. Discuss your answers with classmates for additional insights.

  5. Form good study habits. A little bit of daily review can dramatically improve your memory and understanding. Set specific, achievable goals for each study session.

  6. Track your habits. Using a habit tracker can really help solidify your study routine. Check out some great options on Productive Fish (link to habit trackers). These tools can help you keep a daily log of your study sessions and motivate you to stick to your goals.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for giving me advice. Joshua