I’ve been asked a number of times recently on studying. How do you go about studying for an exam, or studying in general? So I figured I’d write a post on it.
Pace yourself. Students are in the habit of cramming before exams, which is fine as long as it works for you. But even when cramming it’s important to keep a steady pace. I’m not a crammer, the thought of leaving studying till the last minute freaks me out and as I have a hard enough time absorbing information it just seems like academic suicide. So I use all the time I have available to review in short bits with a break in between.
Let’s say I had 2 weeks to review for a math exam. Each day would schedule 2 lots of 1 hour for a subject, so day 1 I would look at one subject and only one, such as Vectors. After those 2 hours I’d stop regardless of where I was at. Day 2 I would pick another subject and do the same. Each day I pick a new subject and don’t repeat the same subject two days in a row. If I wanted to go over vectors again that’s fine, just make sure to put something between it, otherwise you end up spending half of the time on one subject.
2. Choose your subjects wisely.
As far as choosing the subject order I start with the things that I’m best at. Ideally you want to cover the course subject matter in its entirety but there’s not always time. Because I’m best that them they’ll take the least amount of time to review and most importantly, I find the harder things are easier to understand when you have a firm grasp of the easy stuff. And if you get to exam time and you’ve spent all your time trying to understand only a couple of the very difficult subjects, how prepared are you? Especially if those subjects don’t appear on the exam. This can be applied over any time scale, but I suggest that you stick to hour long blocks of study time. I.e. shorten the breaks, not the study.
I’m against crowd sourcing generally for two reasons; 1. A crowd sourced opinion is no opinion at all. 2. there’s a lot of crap out there and some of it is… less correct than it should be. That being said, hit the internet and look at how other people interpret and express the subject. Especially in regards to math and programming I found it really helps.
Find someone who understands the subject at about the same level, or another people who is reviewing for the same exam maybe. And converse with them about it. I don’t read well, so library books and other literature is largely wasted on me, so I converse, with tutors, with students and some time with my 6 year old son. Any one who will listen and respond to me so that I can assimilate the information spoken out loud.
After explaining this technique to a fellow-student he responded with “So that’s why you’re always quizzing all us before exams?”
So that’s it. That’s my studying technique and it’s served me pretty well